BY MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO;
ADDRESSED TO MARCUS BRUTUS
And now first translated from the Original Latin.
"Song charms the Sense, but Eloquence the Soul."
Which, my Brutus, would be the most difficult talk,--to decline answering a request which you have so often repeated, or to gratify it to your satisfaction,--I have long been at a loss to determine. I should be extremely sorry to deny any thing to a friend for whom I have the warmest esteem, and who, I am sensible, has an equal affection for me;-- especially, as he has only desired me to undertake a subject which may justly claim my attention. But to delineate a character, which it would be very difficult, I will not say to acquire, but even to comprehend in its full extent, I thought was too bold an undertaking for him who reveres the censure of the wife and learned. For considering the great diversity of manner among the ablest Speakers, how exceedingly difficult must it be to determine which is best, and give a finished model of Eloquence? This, however, in compliance with your repeated solicitations, I shall now attempt;--not so much from any hopes of succeeding, as from a strong inclination to make the trial. For I had rather, by yielding to your wishes, give you room to complain of my insufficiency; than, by a peremptory denial, tempt you to question my friendship.
You desire to know, then, (and you have often repeated your request) what kind of Eloquence I most approve, and can look upon to be so highly finished, as to require no farther improvement. But should I be able to answer your expectations, and display, in his full perfection, the Orator you enquire after; I am afraid I shall retard the industry of many, who, enfeebled by despair, will no longer attempt what they think themselves incapable of attaining. It is but reasonable, however, that all those who covet what is excellent, and which cannot be acquired without the greatest application, should exert their utmost. But if any one is deficient in capacity, and destitute of that admirable force of genius which Nature bestows upon her favourites, or has been denied the advantages of a liberal education, let him make the progress he is able. For while we are driving to overtake the foremost, it is no disgrace to be found among the second class, or even the third. Thus, for instance, among the poets, we respect the merit not only of a Homer (that I may confine myself to the Greeks) or of Archilochus, Sophocles, or Pindar, but of many others who occupied the second, or even a lower place. In Philosophy also the diffusive majesty of Plato has not deterred Aristotle from entering the list; nor has Aristotle himself, with all his wonderful knowledge and fertility of thought, disheartened the endeavours of others. Nay, men of an elevated genius have not only disdained to be intimidated from the pursuit of literary fame;--but the very artists and mechanics have never relinquished their profession, because they were unable to equal the beauty of that Iasylus which we have seen at Rhodes, or of the celebrated Venus in the island of Coos:--nor has the noble image of Olympian Jove, or the famous statue of the Man at Arms, deterred others from making trial of their abilities, and exerting their skill to the utmost. Accordingly, such a large number of them has appeared, and each has performed so well in his own way, that we cannot help being pleased with their productions, notwithstanding our admiration at the nobler efforts of the great masters of the chissel.
But among the Orators, I mean those of Greece, it is astonishing how much one of them has surpassed the rest:--and yet, though there was a Demosthenes, there were even then many other Orators of considerable merit;--and such there were before he made his appearance, nor have they been wanting since. There is, therefore, no reason why those who have devoted themselves to the study of Eloquence, should suffer their hopes to languish, or their industry to flag. For, in the first place, even that which is most excellent is not to be despaired of;--and, in all worthy attempts, that which is next to what is best is great and noble.
But in sketching out the character of a compleat Orator, it is possible I may exhibit such a one as hath never yet existed. For I am not to point out the Speaker, but to delineate the Eloquence than which nothing can be more perfect of the kind:--an Eloquence which hath blazed forth through a whole Harangue but seldom, and, it may be, never; but only here and there like a transient gleam, though in some Orators more frequently, and in others, perhaps, more sparingly.
My opinion, then, is,--that there is no human production of any kind, so compleatly beautiful, than which there is not a something still more beautiful, from which the other is copied like a portrait from real life, and which can be discerned neither by our eyes nor ears, nor any of our bodily senses, but is visible only to thought and imagination. Though the statues, therefore, of Phidias, and the other images above-mentioned, are all so wonderfully charming, that nothing can be found which is more excellent of the kind; we may still, however, suppose a something which is more exquisite, and more compleat. For it must not be thought that the ingenious artist, when he was sketching out the form of a Jupiter, or a Minerva, borrowed the likeness from any particular object;--but a certain admirable semblance of beauty was present to his mind, which he viewed and dwelt upon, and by which his skill and his hand were guided. As, therefore, in mere bodily shape and figure there is a kind of perfection, to whose ideal appearance every production which falls under the notice of the eye is referred by imitation; so the semblance of what is perfect in Oratory may become visible to the mind, and the ear may labour to catch a likeness. These primary forms of thing are by Plato (the father of science and good language) called Ideas; and he tells us they have neither beginning nor end, but are co-eval with reason and intelligence; while every thing besides has a derived, and a transitory existence, and passes away and decays, so as to cease in a short time to be the thing it was. Whatever, therefore, may be discussed by reason and method, should be constantly reduced to the primary form or semblance of it's respective genus.
I am sensible that this introduction, as being derived not from the principles of Eloquence, but from the deepest recesses of Philosophy, will excite the censure, or at least the wonder of many, who will think it both unfashionable and intricate. For they will either be at a loss to discover it's connection with my subject, (though they will soon be convinced by what follows, that, if it appears to be far-fetched, it is not so without reason;)--or they will blame me, perhaps, for deserting the beaten track, and striking out into a new one. But I am satisfied that I often appear to advance novelties, when I offer sentiments which are, indeed, of a much earlier date, but happen to be generally unknown: and I frankly acknowledge that I came forth an Orator, (if indeed I am one, or whatever else I may be deemed) not from the school of the Rhetoricians, but from the spacious walks of the Academy. For these are the theatres of diversified and extensive arguments which were first impressed with the foot-steps of Plato; and his Dissertations, with those of other Philosophers, will be found of the greatest utility to an Orator, both for his exercise and improvement; because all the fertility, and, as it were, the materials of Eloquence, are to be derived from thence;--but not, however, sufficiently prepared for the business of the Forum, which, as themselves have frequently boasted, they abandoned to the rustic Muses of the vulgar! Thus the Eloquence of the Forum, despised and rejected by the Philosophers, was bereaved of her greatest advantages:--but, nevertheless, being arrayed in all the brilliance of language and sentiment, she made a figure among the populace, nor feared the censure of the judicious few. By this means, the learned became destitute of a popular Eloquence, and the Orators of polite learning.
We may, therefore, consider it as a capital maxim, (the truth of which will be more easily understood in the sequel) that the eloquent Speaker we are enquiring after, cannot be formed without the assistance of Philosophy. I do not mean that this alone is sufficient; but only (for it is sometimes necessary to compare great things to small) that it will contribute to improve him in the same manner as the Palaestra [Footnote: The Palaestra was a place set apart for public exercises, such as wrestling, running, fencing, &c. the frequent performance of which contributed much to a graceful carriage of the body, which is a necessary accomplishment in a good Actor.] does an Actor; because without Philosophy, no man can speak fully and copiously upon a variety of important subjects which come under the notice of an Orator. Accordingly, in the Phaedrus of Plato, it is observed by Socrates that the great Pericles excelled all the Speakers of his time, because he had been a hearer of Anaxagoras the Naturalist, from whom he supposes that he not only borrowed many excellent and sublime ideas, but a certain richness and fertility of language, and (what in Eloquence is of the utmost consequence) the various arts either of soothing or alarming each particular passion. The same might be said of Demosthenes, whose letters will satisfy us, how assiduously he attended the Lectures of Plato. For without the instruction of Philosophy, we can neither discover what is the Genus or the Species to which any thing belongs, nor explain the nature of it by a just definition, or an accurate analysis of its parts;-- nor can we distinguish between what is true and false, or foresee the consequences, point out the inconsistencies, and dissolve the ambiguities which may lie in the case before us. But as to Natural Philosophy (the knowledge of which will supply us with the richest treasures of Elocution;)--and as to life, and it's various duties, and the great principles of morality,--what is it possible either to express or understand aright, without a large acquaintance with these? To such various and important accomplishments we must add the innumerable ornaments of language, which, at the time above mentioned, were the only weapons which the Masters of Rhetoric could furnish. This is the reason why that genuine, and perfect Eloquence we are speaking of, has been yet attained by no one; because the Art of Reasoning has been supposed to be one thing, and that of Speaking another; and we have had recourse to different Instructors for the knowledge of things and words.
Antonius, [Footnote: A celebrated Orator, and grandfather to M. Antonius The Triumvir.] therefore, to whom our ancestors adjudged the palm of Eloquence, and who had much natural penetration and sagacity, has observed in the only book he published, "that he had seen many good Speakers, but not a single Orator." The full and perfect semblance of Eloquence had so thoroughly possessed his mind, and was so completely visible there, though no where exemplified in practice, that this consummate Genius, (for such, indeed, he was) observing many defects in both himself and others, could discover no one who merited the name of eloquent. But if he considered neither himself, nor Lucius Crassus, as a genuine Orator, he must have formed in his mind a sublime idea of Eloquence, under which, because there was nothing wanting to compleat it, he could not comprehend those Speakers who were any ways deficient. Let us then, my Brutus, (if we are able) trace out the Orator whom Antonius never saw, and who, it may be, has never yet existed; for though we have not the skill to copy his likeness in real practice, (a talk which, in the opinion of the person above- mentioned, would be almost too arduous for one of the Gods,) we may be able, perhaps, to give some account of what he ought to be.
Good Speaking, then, may be divided into three characters, in each of which there are some who have made an eminent figure: but to be equally excellent in all (which is what we require) has been the happiness of few.
The lofty and majestic Speaker, who distinguishes himself by the energy of his sentiments, and the dignity of his expression, is impetuous,--diversified,--copious,--and weighty,--and abundantly qualified to alarm and sway the passions;--which some effect by a harsh, and a rough, gloomy way of speaking, without any harmony or measure; and others, by a smooth, a regular, and a well-proportioned style.
On the other hand, the simple and easy Speaker is remarkably dexterous and keen, and aiming at nothing but our information, makes every thing he discourses upon, rather clear and open than great and striking, and polishes it with the utmost neatness and accuracy. But some of this kind of Speakers, who are distinguished by their peculiar artificie, are designedly unpolished, and appear rude and unskilful, that they may have the better opportunity of deceiving us:--while others, with the same poverty of style, are far more elegant and agreeable,--that is, they are pleasant and facetious, and sometimes even florid, with here and there an easy ornament.
But there is likewise a middle kind of Oratory, between the two above- mentioned, which neither has the keenness of the latter, nor hurls the thunder of the former; but is a mixture of both, without excelling in either, though at the same time it has something of each, or (perhaps, more properly) is equally destitute of the true merit of both. This species of Eloquence flows along in a uniform course, having nothing to recommend it, but it's peculiar smoothness and equability; though at the same time, it intermingles a number of decorations, like the tufts of flowers in a garland, and embellishes a discourse from beginning to end with the moderate and less striking ornaments of language and sentiment.
Those who have attained to any degree of perfection in either of the above characters, have been distinguished as eminent Orators: but the question is whether any of them have compassed what we are seeking after, and succeeded equally in all. For there have been several who could speak nervously and pompously, and yet, upon occasion, could express themselves with the greates address, and simplicity. I wish I could refer to such an Orator, or at least to one who nearly resembles him, among the Romans; for it would certainly have been more to our credit to be able to refer to proper examples of our own, and not be necessitated to have recourse to the Greeks. But though in another treatis of mine, which bears the name of Brutus, [Footnote: A very excellent Treatise in the form of a Dialogue. It contains a critical and very instructive account of all the noted Orators of Greece and Rome and might be called, with great propriety, the History of Eloquence. Though it is perhaps the most entertaining of all Cicero's performances, the Public have never been obliged before with a translation of it into English; which, I hope, will sufficiently plead my excuse for preforming to undertake it.] I have said much in favour of the Romans, partly to excite their emulation, and, in some measure, from a partial fondness for my country; yet I must always remember to give the preference to Demosthenes, who alone has adapted his genius to that perfect species of Eloquence of which I can readily form an idea, but which I have never yet seen exemplified in practice. Than him, there has never hitherto existed a more nervous, and at the same time, a more subtle Speaker, or one more cool and temperate. I must, therefore, caution those whose ignorant discourse is become so common, and who wish to pass for Attic Speakers, or at least to express themselves in the Attic taste, --I must caution them to take him for their pattern, than whom it is impossible that Athens herself should be more completely Attic: and, as to genuine Atticism, that them learn what it means, and measure the force of Eloquence, not by their own weakness and incapacity, but by his wonderful energy and strength. For, at present, a person bestows his commendation upon just so much as he thinks himself capable of imitating. I therefore flatter myself that it will not be foreign to my purpose, to instruct those who have a laudable emulation, but are not thoroughly settled in their judgment, wherein the merit of an Attic Orator consists.
The taste of the Audience, then, has always governed and directed the Eloquence of the Speaker: for all who wish to be applauded, consult the character, and the inclinations of those who hear them, and carefully form and accommodate themselves to their particular humours and dispositions. Thus in Caria, Phrygia, and Mysia, because the inhabitants have no relish for true elegance and politeness, the Orators have adopted (as most agreeable to the ears of their audience) a luxuriant, and, if I may so express myself, a corpulent style; which their neighbours the Rhodians, who are only parted from them by a narrow straight, have never approved, and much less the Greeks; but the Athenians have entirely banished it; for their taste has always been so just and accurate that they could not listen to any thing but what was perfectly correct and elegant. An Orator, therefore, to compliment their delicacy, was forced to be always upon his guard against a faulty or a distasteful expression.
Accordingly, he, whom we have just mentioned as surpassing the rest, has been careful in his Oration for Ctesiphon, (which is the best he ever composed) to set out very cooly and modestly: when he proceeds to argue the point of law, he grows more poignant and pressing; and as he advances in his defence, he takes still greater liberties; till, at last, having warmed the passions of his Judges, he exults at his pleasure through the reamining part of his discourse. But even in him, thus carefully weighing and poising his every word Aeschines [Footnote: Aeschines was a cotemporary, and a professed rival of Demosthenes. He carried his animosity so far as to commence a litigious suit against him, at a time when the reputation of the latter was at the lowest ebb. But being overpowered by the Eloquence of Demosthenes, he was condemned to perpetual banishment.] could find several expressions to turn into ridicule:--for giving a loose to his raillery, he calls them harsh, and detestable, and too shocking to be endured; and styling the author of them a very monster, he tauntingly asks him whether such expressions could be considered as words or not rather as absolute frights and prodigies. So that to AEschines not even Demosthenes himself was perfectly Attic; for it is an easy matter to catch a glowing expression, (if I may be allowed to call it so) and expose it to ridicule when the fire of attention is extinguished. Demosthenes, therefore, when he endeavours to excuse himself, condescends to jest, and denies that the fortune of Greece was in the least affected by the singularity of a particular expression, or by his moving his hand either this way or that.
With what patience, then, would a Mysian or a Phrygian have been heard at Athens, when even Demosthenes himself was reproached as a nuisance? But should the former have begun his whining sing-song, after the manner of the Asiatics, who would have endured it? or rather, who would not have ordered him to be instantly torn from the Rostrum? Those, therefore, who can accommodate themselves to the nice and critical ears of an Athenian audience, are the only persons who should pretend to Atticism.
But though Atticism may be divided into several kinds, these mimic Athenians suspect but one. They imagine that to discourse plainly, and without any ornament, provided it be done correctly, and clearly, is the only genuine Atticism. In confining it to this alone, they are certainly mistaken; though when they tell us that this is really Attic, they are so far in the right. For if the only true Atticism is what they suppose to be, not even Pericles was an Attic Speaker, though he was universally allowed to bear away the palm of Eloquence; nor, if he had wholly attached himself to this plain and simple kind of language, would he ever have been said by the Poet Aristophanes to thunder and lighten, and throw all Greece into a ferment.
Be it allowed, then, that Lysias, that graceful and most polite of Speakers, was truly Attic: for who can deny it? But let it also be remembered that Lysias claims the merit of Atticism, not so much for his simplicity and want of ornament, as because he has nothing which is either faulty or impertinent. But to speak floridly, nervously, and copiously, this also is true Atticism:--otherwise, neither Aeschines nor even Demosthenes himself were Attic Speakers.
There are others who affect to be called Thucydideans,--a strange and novel race of Triflers! For those who attach themselves to Lysias, have a real Pleader for their pattern;--not indeed a stately, and striking Pleader, but yet a dextrous and very elegant one, who might appear in the Forum with reputation.
Thucydides, on the contrary, is a mere Historian, who ('tis true) describes wars, and battles with great dignity and precision; but he can supply us with nothing which is proper for the Forum. For his very speeches have so many obscure and intricate periods, that they are scarcely intelligible; which in a public discourse is the greatest fault of which an Orator can be guilty. But who, when the use of corn has been discovered, would be so mad as to feed upon acorns? Or could the Athenians improve their diet, and bodily food, and be incapable of cultivating their language? Or, lastly, which of the Greek Orators has copied the style of Thucydides? [Footnote: Demosthenes indeed took the pains to transcribe the History of Thucydides several times. But he did this, no so much to copy the form as the energy of his language.] "True," they reply, "but Thucydides was universally admired." And so, indeed, he was; but only as a sensible, an exact, and a grave Historian;--not for his address in public debates, but for his excellence in describing wars and battles. Accordingly, he was never mentioned as an Orator; nor would his name have been known to posterity, if he had not composed his History, notwithstanding the dignity of his birth, and the honourable share he held in the Government. But none of these Pretenders have copied his energy; and yet when they have uttered a few mutilated and broken periods (which they might easily have done without a master to imitate) we must rever them, truly, as so many genuine Thucydideses. I have likewise met with a few who were professed imitators of Xenophon; whose language, indeed, is sweeter than honey, but totally unqualified to withstand the clamours of the Forum.
Let us return then to the Orator we are seeking after, and furnish him with those powers of Elocution, which Antonius could not discover in any one: an arduous task, my Brutus, and full of difficulty:--yet nothing, I believe, is impossible to him whose breast is fired with the generous flame of friendship! But I affectionately admire (and have always admired) your genius, your inclinations, and your manners. Nay, I am daily more inflamed and ravished, not only with a desire (which, I assure you, is a violent one) to renew our friendly intercourses, our social repasts, and your improving conversation, but by the wonderful fame of your incredible virtues, which, though different in kind, are readily united by your superior wisdom and good-sense. For what is so remote from severity of manners as gentleness and affability? and yet who more venerable than yourself, or who more agreeable? What can be more difficult than to decide a number of suits, so as to be equally esteemed and beloved by the parties on both sides? You, however, possess the admirable talent of sending away perfectly easy and contented even those against whom your are forced to give judgment: thus bringing it to bear that, while you do nothing from a partial favour to any man, whatever you do is favourably received. Hence it happens, that the only country upon earth, which is not involved in the present confusion, is the province of Gaul; where you are now enjoying yourself in a happy tranquillity, while you are universally respected at home, and live in the hearts of the flower and strength of your fellow- citizens. It is equally amazing, though you are always engaged in the most important offices of Government, that your studies are never intermitted; and that you are constantly either composing something of your own, or finding employment for me! Accordingly I began this Essay, at your request, as soon as I had finished my Cato; which last also I should never have attempted (especially at a time when the enemies of virtue were so numerous) if I had not considered it as a crime to disobey my friend, when he only urged me to revive the memory of a man whom I always loved and honoured in his life-time. But I have now ventured upon a task which you have frequently pressed upon me, and I as often refused: for, if possible, I would share the fault between us, that if I should prove unequal to the subject, you may have the blame of loading me with a burden which is beyond my strength, and I the censure of presuming to undertake it:--though after all, the single merit of gratifying such a friend as Brutus, will sufficiently atone for any defects I may fall into.
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.]
If, however, I was to return no other answer to the latter, but that I was unwilling to deny any thing to the request of Brutus, the apology must be unexceptionable; because I am only aiming at the satisfaction of an intimate friend, and a worthy man, who desires nothing of me but what is just and honourable.
But was I even to profess (what I wish I was capable of) that I mean to give the necessary precepts, and point out the road to Eloquence to those who are desirous to qualify themselves for the Forum, what man of sense could blame me for it? For who ever doubted that in the decision of political matters, and in time of peace, Eloquence has always borne the sway in the Roman state, while Jurisprudence has possessed only the second post of honour? For whereas the former is a constant source of authority and reputation, and enables us to defend ourselves and our friends in the most effectual manner;--the other only furnishes us with formal rules for indictments, pleas, protests, &c. in conducting which she is frequently obliged to sue for the assistance of Eloquence;--but if the latter condescends to oppose her, she is scarcely able to maintain her ground, and defend her own territories. If therefore to teach the Civil Law has always been reckoned a very honourable employment, and the houses of the most eminent men of that profession, have been crowded with disciples; who can be reasonably censured for exciting our youth to the study of Eloquence, and furnishing them with all the assistance in his power? If it is a fault to speak gracefully, let Eloquence be for ever banished from the state. But if, on the contrary, it reflects an honour, not only upon the man who possesses it, but upon the country which gave him birth, how can it be a disgrace to learn, what it is so glorious to know? Or why should it not be a credit to teach what it is the highest honour to have learned?
But, in one case, they will tell me, the practice has been sanctified by custom, and in the other it has not. This I grant: but We may easily account for both. As to the gentlemen of the law, it was sufficient to hear them, when they decided upon such cases as were laid before them in the course of business;--so that when they taught, they did not set apart any particular time for that purpose, but the same answers satisfied their clients and their pupils. On the other hand, as our Speakers of eminence spent their time, while at home, in examining and digesting their causes, and while in the Forum in pleading them, and the remainder of it in a seasonable relaxation, what opportunity had they for teaching and instructing others? I might venture to add that most of our Orators have been more distinguishied by their genius, than by their learning; and for that reason were much better qualified to be Speakers than Teachers; which it is possible may be the reverse of my case.--"True," say they; "but teaching is an employment which is far from being recommended by its dignity." And so indeed it is, if we teach like mere pedagogues. But if we only direct, encourage, examine, and inform our pupils; and sometimes accompany them in reading or hearing the performances of the most eminent Speakers;--if by these means we are able to contribute to their improvement, what should hinder us from communicating a few instructions, as opportunity offers? Shall we deem it an honourable employment, as indeed with us it is, to teach the form of a legal process, or an excommunication from the rites and privileges of our religion; and shall it not be equally honourable to teach the methods by which those privileges may be defended and secured?--"Perhaps it may," they will reply; "but even those who know scarcely any thing of the law are ambitious to be thought masters of it; whereas those who are well furnished with the powers of Eloquence pretend to be wholly unacquainted with them; because they are sensible that useful knowledge is a valuable recommendation, whereas an artful tongue is suspected by every one." But is it possible, then, to exert the powers of Eloquence without discovering them? Or is an Orator really thought to be no Orator, because he disclaims the title? Or is it likely that, in a great and noble art, the world will judge it a scandal to teach what it is the greatest honour to learn? Others, indeed, may have been more reserved; but, for my part, I have always owned my profession. For how could I do otherwise, when, in my youth, I left my native land, and crossed the sea, with no other view but to improve myself in this kind of knowledge; and, when afterwards my house was crowded with the ablest professors, and my very style betrayed some traces of a liberal education? Nay, when my own writings were in every body's hands, with what face could I pretend that I had not studied? Or what excuse could I have for submitting my abilities to the judgment of the public, if I had been apprehensive that they would think I had studied to no purpose? [Footnote: This sentence in the original runs thus;--Quid erat cur probarem (i.e. scripta nostra), nisi quod parum fortasse profeceram?--"Wherefore did I approve of them," (that is, of my writings, so far as to make them public) "but because I had," (in my own opinion) "made a progress, though perhaps a small one, in useful literature?" This, at least, is the only meaning I am able to affix to it; and I flatter myself, that the translation I have given of it, will be found to correspond with the general sense of my author.] But the points we have already discussed are susceptible of greater dignity and elevation, than those which remain to be considered. For we are next to treat of the arrangement of our words; and, indeed, I might have said, of the art of numbering and measuring our very syllables; which, though it may, in reality, be a matter of as much consequence as I judge it to be, cannot however be supposed to have such a striking appearance in precept as in practice. This, indeed, might be said of every other branch of useful knowledge; but it is more remarkably true with respect to this. For the actual growth and improving height of all the sublimer arts, like that of trees, affords a pleasing prospect; whereas the roots and stems are scarcely beheld with indifference: and yet the former cannot subsist without the latter. But whether I am restrained from dissembling the pleasure I take in the subject, by the honest advice of the Poet, who says,
"Blush not to own the art you love to practise."
or whether this treatise has been extorted from me by the importunity of my friend, it was proper to obviate the censures to which it will probably expose me. And yet, even supposing that I am mistaken in my sentiments, who would shew himself so much of a savage, as to refuse me his indulgence (now all my forensic employments and public business are at an end) for not resigning myself to that stupid inactivity which is contrary to my nature, or to that unavailing sorrow which I do my best to overcome, rather than devote myself to my favourite studies? These first conducted me into the Forum and the Senate-House, and they are now the chief comforts of my retirement. I have, however, applied myself not only to such speculations as form the subject of the present Essay, but to others more sublime and interesting; and if I am able to discuss them in a proper manner, my private studies will be no disparagement to my forensic employments.
But it is time to return to our subject.--Our words, then, should be so disposed that every following one may be aptly connected with the preceding, so as to make an agreeable sound;--or that the mere form and concinnity of our language may give our sentences their proper measure and dimensions;--or, lastly, that our periods may have a numerous and measured cadence.
The first thing, then, to be attended to, is the structure of our language, or the agreeable connection of one word with another; which, though it certainly requires care, ought not to be practised with a laborious nicety. For this would be an endless and puerile attempt, and is justly ridiculed by Lucilius, when he introduces Scaevola thus reflecting upon Albucius:
"As in the checquer'd pavement ev'ry square
Is nicely fitted by the mason's care:
So all thy words are plac'd with curious art,
And ev'ry syllable performs its part."
But though we are not to be minutely exact in the structure of our language, a moderate share of practice will habituate us to every thing of this nature which is necessary. For as the eye in reading, so the mind in speaking, will readily discern what ought to follow,--that, in connecting our words, there may neither be a chasm, nor a disagreeable harshness. The most lively and interesting sentiments, if they are harshly expressed, will offend the ear, that delicate and fastidious judge of rhetorical harmony. This circumstance, therefore, is so carefully attended to in the Roman language, that there is scarcely a rustic among us who is not averse to a collision of vowels,--a defect which, in the opinion of some, was too scrupulously avoided by Theopompus, though his master Isocrates was equally cautious. But Thucydides was not so exact; nor was Plato, (though a much better writer)--not only in his Dialogues, in which it was necessary to maintain an easy negligence, to resemble the style of conversation, but in the famous Panegyric, in which (according to the custom of the Athenians) he celebrated the praises of those who fell in battle, and which was so greatly esteemed, that it is publicly repeated every year. In that Oration a collision of vowels occurs very frequently; though Demosthenes generally avoids it as a fault.
But let the Greeks determine for themselves: we Romans are not allowed to interrupt the connection of our words. Even the rude and unpolished Orations of Cato are a proof of this; as are likewise all our poets, except in particular instances, in which they were obliged to admit a few breaks, to preserve their metre. Thus we find in Naevius,
"Vos QUI ACCOLITIS histrum FLUVIUM ATQUE ALGIDUM."
And in another place,
"Quam nunquam vobis GRAII ATQUE Barbari."
But Ennius admits it only once, when he says,
and likewise I myself in
"Hoc motu radiantis ETESIAE IN Vada Ponti."
This, however, would seldom be suffered among us, though the Greeks often commend it as a beauty.
But why do I speak of a collision of vowels? for, omitting this, we have frequently contracted our words for the sake of brevity; as in multi' modis, vas' argenteis, palm' et crinibus, tecti' fractis, &c. We have sometimes also contracted our proper names, to give them a smoother sound: for as we have changed Duellum into Bellum, and duis into bis, so Duellius, who defeated the Carthagenians at sea, was called Bellius, though all his ancestors were named Duellii. We likewise abbreviate our words, not only for convenience, but to please and gratify the ear. For how otherwise came axilla to be changed into ala, but by the omission of an unweildy consonant, which the elegant pronunciation of our language has likewise banished from the words maxillae, taxillae, vexillum, and paxillum?
Upon the same principle, two or more words have been contracted into one, as sodes for si audes, sis for si vis, capsis for cape si vis, ain' for aisne, nequire for non quire, malle for magis velle, and nolle for non velle; and we often say dein' and exin' for deinde and exinde. It is equally evident why we never say cum nobis, but nobiscum; though we do not scruple to say cum illis;--viz. because, in the former case, the union of the consonants m and n would produce a jarring sound: and we also say mecum and tecum, and not cum me and cum te, to correspond with nobiscum and vobiscum. But some, who would correct antiquity rather too late, object to these contractions: for, instead of prob DEÛM atque hominum fidem, they say Deorum. They are not aware, I suppose, that custom has sanctified the licence. The same Poet, therefore, who, almost without a precedent, has said patris mei MEÛM FACTÛM pudet, instead of meorum factorum,--and textitur exitiûm examen rapit for exitiorum, does not choose to say liberum, as we generally do in the expressions cupidos liberûm, and in liberûm loco, but, as the literary virtuosos above-mentioned would have it,
neque tuum unquam in gremium extollas LIBERORUM ex te genus,
namque Aesculapî LIBERORUM.
But the author before quoted says in his Chryses, not only
Cives, antiqui amici majorum MEÛM,
which was common enough--, but more harshly still,
CONSILIÛM, AUGURIÛM, atque EXTÛM interpretes;
and in another place,
Postquam PRODIGIÛM HORRIFERÛM PORTENTÛM pavos.
a licence which is not customary in all neuters indifferently: for I should not be so willing to say armûm judicium, as armorum; though in the same writer we meet with nihilne ad te de judicio armûm accidit? And yet (as we find it in the public registers) I would venture to say fabrûm, and procûm, and not fabrorum and procorum. But I would never say duorum virorum judicium, or trium virorum capitalium, or decem virorum litibus judicandis. In Accius, however, we meet with
Video sepulchra duo duorum corporum;
though in another place he says,
Mulier una duum virum.
I know, indeed, which is most conformable to the rules of grammar: but yet I sometimes express myself as the freedom of our language allows me, as when I say at pleasure, either prob deum, or prob deorum;--and, at other times, as I am obliged by custom, as when I say trium virum for virorum, or sestertium nummum for nummorum: because in the latter case the mode of expression is invariable.
But what shall we say when these humourists forbid us to say nosse and judicasse for novisse and judicavisse; as if we did not know, as well as themselves, that, in these instances, the verb at full length is most agreeable to the laws of grammar, though custom has given the preference to the contracted verb? Terence, therefore, has made use of both, as when he says, eho tu cognatum tuum non norâs? and afterwards,
Stilphonem, inquam, noveras?
Thus also, fiet is a perfect verb, and fit a contracted one; and accordingly we find in the same Comedian,
Quam cara SINTQUE post carendo intelligunt,
Quamque attinendi magni dominatus SIENT.
In the same manner I have no objection to scripsere alii rem, though I am sensible that scripserunt is more grammatical; because I submit with pleasure to the indulgent laws of custom which delights to gratify the ear. Idem campus habet, says Ennius; and in another place, in templis îsdem; eisdem, indeed, would have been more grammatical, but not sufficiently harmonious; and iisdem would have sounded still worse.
But we are allowed by custom even to dispense with the rules of etymology to improve the sweetness of our language; and I would therefore rather say, pomeridianas Quadrigas, than postmeridianas; and mehercule, than mehercules. For the same reason non scire would now be deemed a barbarism, becaule nescire has a smoother sound; and we have likewise substituted meridiem for medidiem, because the latter was offensive to the ear. Even the preposition ab, which so frequently occurs in our compound verbs is preserved entire only in the formality of a Journal, and, indeed, not always there: in every other sort of language it is frequently altered. Thus we say amovit, abegit, and abstulit; so that you can scarcely determine whether the primitive preposition should be ab or abs. We have likewise rejected even abfugit, and abfer, and introduced aufugit and aufer in their stead;--thus forming a new preposition, which is to be found in no other verb but these. Noti, navi, and nari, have all been words in common use: but when they were afterwards to be compounded with the preposition in, it was thought more harmonious to say ignoti, ignavi, and ignari, than to adhere strictly to the rules of etymology. We likewise say ex usu, and e Republicâ; because, in the former case, the preposition is followed by a vowel, and, in the latter, it would have sounded harshly without omitting the consonant; as may also be observed in exegit, edixit, refecit, retulit, and reddidit.
Sometimes the preposition alters or otherwise affects the first letter of the verb with which it happens to be compounded; as in subegit, summutavit, and sustutit. At other times it changes one of the subsequent letters; as when we say insipientem for insapientem, iniquum for inaequum_, tricipitem for tricapitem, and concisum for concaesum: and from hence some have ventured to say pertisum for pertaesum, which custom has never warranted.
But what can be more delicate than our changing even the natural quantity of our syllables to humour the ear? Thus in the adjectives inclytus, and inhumanus, the first syllable after the preposition is short, whereas insanus and infelix have it long; and, in general, those words whose first letters are the same as in sapiens and felix, have their first syllable long in composition, but all others have the same syllable short, as composuit, consuevit, concrepuit, confecit. Examine these liberties by the strict rules of etymology, and they must certainly be condemned; but refer them to the decision of the ear, and they will be instantly approved.--What is the reason? Your ear will inform you they have an easier sound; and every language must submit to gratify the ear. I myself, because our ancestors never admitted the aspirate, unless where a syllable began with a vowel, used to say pulcros, Cetegos, triumpos, and Cartaginem: but some time afterwards, though not very soon, when this grammatical accuracy was wrested from me by the censure of the ear, I resigned the mode of language to the vulgar, and reserved the theory to myself. But we still say, without any hesitation, Orcivios, Matones, Otones, coepiones, sepulcra, coronas, and lacrymas, because the ear allows it. Ennius always uses Burrum, and never Pyrrhum; and the ancient copies of the same author have
Vi patefecerunt BRUGES,
not Phryges; because the Greek vowel had not then been adopted, though we now admit both that and the aspirate:--and, in fact, when we had afterwards occasion to say Phrygum and Phrygibus, it was rather absurd to adopt the Greek letter without adopting their cases, [Footnote: This passage, as it stands in the original, appears to me unintelligible: I have therefore taken the liberty to give it a slight alteration.] or at least not to confine it to the nominative; and yet (in the accusative) we say Phryges, and Pyrrhum, to please the ear. Formerly it was esteemed an elegancy, though it would now be considered as a rusticism, to omit the s in all words which terminate in us, except when they were followed by a vowel; and the same elision which is so carefully avoided by the modern Poets, was very far from being reckoned a fault among the ancient: for they made no scruple to say,
Qui est OMNIBU' princeps,
not, as we do, OMNIBUS princeps; and,
Vitâ illâ DIGNU' locoque,
But if untaught custom has been so ingenious in the formation of agreeable sounds, what may we not expect from the improvements of art and erudition? I have, however, been much shorter upon this subject, than I should have been if I had written upon it professedly: for a comparison of the natural and customary laws of language would have opened a wide field for speculation: but I have already enlarged upon it sufficiently, and more, perhaps, than the nature of my design required.
To proceed then;--as the choice of proper matter, and of suitable words to express it, depends upon the judgment of the Speaker, but that of agreeable sounds, and harmonious numbers, upon the decision of the ear; and because the former is intended for information, and the latter for pleasure; it is evident that reason must determine the rules of art in one case, and mere sensation in the other. For we must either neglect the gratification of those by whom we wish to be approved, or apply ourselves to invent the most likely methods to promote it.
There are two things which contribute to gratify the ear,--agreeable sounds, and harmonious numbers. We shall treat of numbers in the sequel, and at present confine ourselves to sound.--Those words, then, as we have already observed, are to have the preference which sound agreeably;--not such as are exquisitely melodious, like those of the Poets, but such as can be found to our purpose in common language.--Quà Pontus Helles is rather beyond the mark:--but in
Auratos aries Colchorum,
the verse glitters with a moderate harmony of expression; whereas the next, as ending with a letter which is remarkably flat, is unmusical,
Frugifera et ferta arva Alfiae tenet,
Let us, therefore, rather content ourselves with the agreeable mediocrity of our own language, than emulate the splendor of the Greeks; unless we are so bigotted to the latter as to hesitate to say with the poet,
Quà tempestate Paris Helenam, &c.
we might even imitate what follows, and avoid, as far as possible, the smallest asperity of sound,
habeo istam ego PERTERRICREPAM;
or say, with the same author, in another passage,
But our words must have a proper compass, as well as be connected together in an agreeable manner; for this, we have observed, is another circumstance which falls under the notice of the ear. They are confined to a proper compass, either by certain rules of composition, as by a kind of natural pause, or by the use of particular forms of expression, which have a peculiar concinnity in their very texture; such as a succession of several words which have the same termination, or the comparing similar, and contrasting opposite circumstances, which will always terminate in a measured cadence, though no immediate pains should be taken for that purpose. Gorgias, it is said, was the first Orator who practised this species of concinnity. The following passage in my Defence of Milo is an example.
"Est enim, Judices, haec non scripta, fed nata Lex; quam non didicimus, accepimus, legimus, verum ex Naturâ ipsâ arripuimus, hausimus, expressimus; ad quam non docti, sed facti; non instituti, sed imbuti simus."
"For this, my Lords, is a law not written upon tables, but impressed upon our hearts;--a law which we have not learned, or heard, or read, but eagerly caught and imbibed from the hand of Nature;--a law to which we have not been train'd, but originally form'd; and with the principles of which we have not been furnished by education, but tinctured and impregnated from the moment of our birth."
In these forms of expression every circumstance is so aptly referred to some other circumstance, that the regular turn of them does not appear to have been studied, but to result entirely from the sense. The same effect is produced by contrasting opposite circumstances; as in the following lines, where it not only forms a measured sentence, but a verse:
Eam, quam nihil accusas, damnas,
Her, whom you ne'er accus'd, you now condemn;
(in prose we should say condemnas) and again,
Bene quam meritam esse autumas, dicis male mereri,
Her merit, once confess'd, you now deny; and,
Id quod scis, prodest nihil; id quod nescis, obest,
From what you've learnt no real good accrues,
But ev'ry ill your ignorance pursues.
Here you see the mere opposition of the terms produces a verse; but in prosaic composition, the proper form of the last line would be, quod scis nihil prodest; quod nescis multum obest. This contrasting of opposite circumstances, which the Greeks call an Antithesis, will necessarily produce what is styled rhetorical metre, even without our intending it. The ancient Orators, a considerable time before it was practised and recommended by Isocrates, were fond of using it; and particularly Gorgias, whose measured cadences are generally owing to the mere concinnity of his language. I have frequently practised it myself; as, for instance, in the following passage of my fourth Invective against Verres:
"Conferte hanc Pacem cum illo Bello;--hujus Praetoris Adventum, cum illius Imperatoris Victoriâ;--hujas Cohortem impuram, cum illius Exercitu invicto;--hujus Libidines, cum illius Continentiâ;--ab illo qui cepit conditas; ab hoc, qui constitutas accepit, captas dicetis Syracusas."
"Compare this detestable peace with that glorious war,--the arrival of this governor with the victory of that commander,--his ruffian guards, with the invincible forces of the other;--the brutal luxury of the former, with the modest temperance of the latter;--and you will say, that Syracuse was really founded by him who stormed it, and stormed by him who received it already founded to his hands."--So much, then, for that kind of measure which results from particular forms of expression, and which ought to be known by every Orator.
We must now proceed to the third thing proposed,--that numerous and well-adjusted style; of the beauty of which, if any are so insensible as not to feel it, I cannot imagine what kind of ears they have, or what resemblance of a human Being! For my part, my ears are always fond of a complete and full-measured flow of words, and perceive in an instant what is either defective or redundant. But wherefore do I say mine? I have frequently seen a whole assembly burst into raptures of applause at a happy period: for the ear naturally expects that our sentences should be properly tuned and measured. This, however, is an accomplishment which is not to be met with among the ancients. But to compensate the want of it, they had almost every other perfection: for they had a happy choice of words, and abounded in pithy and agreeable sentiments, though they had not the art of harmonizing and completing their periods. This, say some, is the very thing we admire. But what if they should take it into their heads to prefer the ancient peinture, with all its poverty of colouring, to the rich and finished style of the moderns? The former, I suppose, must be again adopted, to compliment their delicacy, and the latter rejected. But these pretended connoisseurs regard nothing but the mere name of antiquity. It must, indeed, be owned that antiquity has an equal claim to authority in matters of imitation, as grey hairs in the precedence of age. I myself have as great a veneration for it as any man: nor do I so much upbraid antiquity with her defects, as admire the beauties she was mistress of:--especially as I judge the latter to be of far greater consequence than the former. For there is certainly more real merit in a masterly choice of words and sentiments, in which the ancients are allowed to excell, than in those measured periods with which they were totally unacquainted. This species of composition was not known among the Romans till lately: but the ancients, I believe, would readily have adopted it, if it had then been discovered: and we accordingly find, that it is now made use of by all Orators of reputation. "But when number, or (as the Greeks call it) prosaic metre, is professedly introduced into judicial and forensic discourses, the very name, say they, has a suspicious sound: for people will conclude that there is too much artifice employed to sooth and captivate their ears, when the Speaker is so over-exact as to attend to the harmony of his periods." Relying upon the force of this objection, these pretenders are perpetually grating our ears with their broken and mutilated sentences; and censure those, without mercy, who have the presumption to utter an agreeable and a well-turned period. If, indeed, it was our design to spread a varnish over empty words and trifling sentiments, the censure would be just: but when the matter is good, and the words are proper and expressive, what reason can be assigned why we should prefer a limping and imperfect period to one which terminates and keeps pace with the sense? For this invidious and persecuted metre aims at nothing more than to adapt the compass of our words to that of our thoughts; which is sometimes done even by the ancients,--though generally, I believe, by mere accident, and often by the natural delicacy of the ear; and the very passages which are now most admired in them, commonly derive their merit from the agreeable and measured flow of the language.
This is an art which was in common use among the Greek Orators, about four hundred years ago, though it has been but lately introduced among the Romans. Ennius, therefore, when he ridicules the inharmonious numbers of his predecessors, might be allowed to say,
"Such verses as the rustic Bards and Satyrs sung:"
But I must not take the same liberty; especially as I cannot say with him,
Before this bold adventurer, &c.
(meaning himself:) nor, as he afterwards exults to the same purpose,
I first have dar'd t'unfold, &c.
for I have both read and heard several who were almost complete masters of the numerous and measured style I am speaking of: But many, who are still absolute strangers to it, are not content to be exempted from the ridicule they deserve, but claim a right to our warmest applause. I must own, indeed, that I admire the venerable patterns, of which those persons pretend to be the faithful imitators, notwithstanding the defects I observe in them: but I can by no means commend the folly of those who copy nothing but their blemishes, and have no pretensions even to the most distant resemblance in what is truly excellent.
But if their own ears are so indelicate and devoid of taste, will they pay no deference to the judgment of others, who are universally celebrated for their learning? I will not mention Isocrates, and his two scholars, Ephorus and Naucrates; though they may claim the honour of giving the richest precepts of composition, and were themselves very eminent Orators. But who was possessed of a more ample fund of erudition?--who more subtle and acute?--or who furnished with quicker powers of invention, and a greater strength of understanding, than Aristotle? I may add, who made a warmer opposition to the rising fame of Isocrates? And yet he, though he forbids us to versify in prose, recommends the use of numbers. His hearer Theodectes (whom he often mentions as a polished writer, and an excellent artist) both approves and advises the same thing: and Theophrastus is still more copious and explicit. Who, then, can have patience with those dull and conceited humourists, who dare to oppose themselves to such venerable names as these? The only excuse that can be made for them is, that they have never perused their writings, and are therefore ignorant that they actually recommend the prosaic metre we are speaking of. If this is the case with them (and I cannot think otherwise) will they reject the evidence of their own sensations? Is there nothing which their ears will inform them is defective?--nothing which is harsh and unpolished?--nothing imperfect?--nothing lame and mutilated?--nothing redundant? In dramatic performances, a whole theatre will exclaim against a verse which has only a syllable either too short or too long: and yet the bulk of an audience are unacquainted with feet and numbers, and are totally ignorant what the fault is, and where it lies: but Nature herself has taught the ear to measure the quantity of sound, and determine the propriety of its various accents, whether grave, or acute.
Do you desire, then, my Brutus, that we should discuss the subject more fully than those writers who have already elucidated this, and the other parts of rhetoric? Or shall we content ourselves with the instructions which they have provided for us? But wherefore do I offer such a question, when your elegant letters have informed me, that this is the chief object of your request? We shall proceed, therefore, to give an account of the commencement, the origin, and the nature and use of prosaic numbers.
The admirers of Isocrates place the first invention of numbers among those other improvements which do honour to his memory. For observing, say they, that the Orators were heard with a kind of sullen attention, while the Poets were listened to with pleasure, he applied himself to introduce a species of metre into prose, which might have a pleasing effect upon the ear, and prevent that satiety which will always arise from a continued uniformity of sound. This, however, is partly true, and partly otherwise; for though it must be owned that no person was better skilled in the subject than Isocrates; yet the first honour of the invention belongs to Thrasymachus, whose style (in all his writings which are extant) is numerous even to a fault. But Gorgias, as I have already remarked, was the original inventor of those measured forms of expression which have a kind of spontaneous harmony,--such as a regular succession of words with the same termination, and the comparing similar, or contracting opposite circumstances: though it is also notoriously true that he used them to excess. This, however, is one of the three branches of composition above- mentioned. But each of these authors was prior to Isocrates: so that the preference can be due to him only for his moderate use, and not for the invention of the art: for as he is certainly much easier in the turn of his metaphors, and the choice of his words, so his numbers are more composed and sedate. But Gorgias, he observed, was too eager, and indulged himself in this measured play of words to a ridiculous excess. He, therefore, endeavoured to moderate and correct it; but not till he had first studied in his youth under the same Gorgias, who was then in Thessaly, and in the last decline of life. Nay, as he advanced in years (for he lived almost a hundred) he corrected himself, and gradually relaxed the over-strict regularity of his numbers; as he particularly informs us in the treatise which he dedicated to Philip of Macedon, in the latter part of his life; for he there says, that he had thrown off that servile attention to his numbers, to which he was before accustomed:--so that he discovered and corrected his own faults, as well as those of his predecessors.
Having thus specified the several authors and inventors, and the first commencement of prosaic harmony, we must next enquire what was the natural source and origin of it. But this lies so open to observation, that I am astonished the ancients did not notice it: especially as they often, by mere accident, threw out harmonious and measured sentences, which, when they had struck the ears and the passions with so much force, as to make it obvious that there was something particularly agreeable in what chance alone had uttered, one would imagine that such a singular species of ornament would have been immediately attended to, and that they would have taken the pains to imitate what they found so pleasing in themselves. For the ear, or at least the mind by the intervention of the ear, has a natural capacity to measure the harmony of language: and we accordingly feel that it instantly determines what is either too short or too long, and always expects to be gratified with that which is complete and well- proportioned. Some expressions it perceives to be imperfect, and mutilated; and at these it is immediately offended, as if it was defrauded of it's natural due. In others it discovers an immoderate length, and a tedious superfluity of words; and with these it is still more disgusted than with the former; for in this, as in most other cases, an excess is always more offensive than a proportional defect. As versification, therefore, and poetic competition was invented by the regulation of the ear, and the successive observations of men of taste and judgment; so in prose (though indeed long afterwards, but still, however, by the guidance of nature) it was discovered that the career and compass of our language should be adjusted and circumscribed within proper limits.
So much for the source, or natural origin of prosaic harmony. We must next proceed (for that was the third thing proposed) to enquire into the nature of it, and determine it's essential principles;--a subject which exceeds the limits of the present essay, and would be more properly discussed in a professed and accurate system of the art. For we might here inquire what is meant by prosaic number, wherein it consists, and from whence it arises; as likewise whether it is simple and uniform, or admits of any variety, and in what manner it is formed, for what purpose, and when and where it should be employed, and how it contributes to gratify the ear. But as in other subjects, so in this, there are two methods of disquisition;--the one more copious and diffusive, and the other more concise, and, I might also add, more easy and comprehensible. In the former, the first question which would occur is, whether there is any such thing as prosaic number: some are of opinion there is not; because no fixed and certain rules have been yet assigned for it, as there long have been for poetic numbers; and because the very persons, who contend for it's existence, have hitherto been unable to determine it. Granting, however, that prose is susceptible of numbers, it will next be enquired of what kind they are;--whether they are to be selected from those of the poets, or from a different species;--and, if from the former, which of them may claim the preference; for some authors admit only one or two, and some more, while others object to none. We might then proceed to enquire (be the number of them to be admitted, more or less) whether they are equally common to every kind of style; for the narrative, the persuasive, and the didactic have each a manner peculiar to itself; or whether the different species of Oratory should be accommodated with their different numbers. If the same numbers are equally common to all subjects, we must next enquire what those numbers are; and if they are to be differently applied, we must examine wherein they differ, and for what reason they are not to be used so openly in prose as in verse. It might likewise be a matter of enquiry, whether a numerous style is formed entirely by the use of numbers, or not also in some measure by the harmonious juncture of our words, and the application of certain figurative forms of expression; --and, in the next place, whether each of these has not its peculiar province, so that number may regard the time or quantity, composition the sound, and figurative expression the form and polish of our language,--and yet, in fact, composition be the source and fountain of all the rest, and give rise both to the varieties of number, and to those figurative and luminous dashes of expression, which by the Greeks, as I have before observed, are called ([Greek: schaemaia],) attitudes or figures. But to me there appears to be a real distinction between what is agreeable in sound, exact in measure, and ornamental in the mode of expression; though the latter, it must be owned, is very closely connected with number, as being for the most part sufficiently numerous without any labour to make it so: but composition is apparently different from both, as attending entirely either to the majestic or agreeable sound of our words. Such then are the enquiries which relate to the nature of prosaic harmony.
From what has been said it is easy to infer that prose is susceptible of number. Our sensations tell us so: and it would be excessively unfair to reject their evidence, because we cannot account for the fact. Even poetic metre was not discovered by any effort of reason, but by mere natural taste and sensation, which reason afterwards correcting, improved and methodized what had been noticed by accident; and thus an attention to nature, and an accurate observation of her various feelings and sensations gave birth to art. But in verse the use of number is more obvious; though some particular species of it, without the assistance of music, have the air of harmonious prose, and especially the lyric poetry, and that even the best of the kind, which, if divested of the aid of music, would be almost as plain and naked as common language. We have several specimens of this nature in our own poets [Footnote: It must here be remarked, that the Romans had no lyric poet before Horace, who did not flourish till after the times of Cicero.]; such as the following line in the tragedy of Thyestes,
"Quemnam te esse dicam? qui in tardâ senectute;
"Whom shall I call thee? who in tardy age," &c.;
which, unless when accompanied by the lyre, might easily be mistaken for prose. But the iambic verses of the comic poets, to maintain a resemblance to the style of conversation, are often so low and simple that you can scarcely discover in them either number or metre; from whence it is evident that it is more difficult to adapt numbers to prose than to verse.
There are two things, however, which give a relish to our language,--well- chosen words, and harmonious numbers. Words may be considered as the materials of language, and it is the business of number to smooth and polish them. But as in other cases, what was invented to serve our necessities was always prior to that which was invented for pleasure; so, in the present, a rude and simple style which was merely adapted to express our thoughts, was discovered many centuries before the invention of numbers, which are designed to please the ear. Accordingly Herodotus, and both his and the preceding age had not the least idea of prosaic number, nor produced any thing of the kind, unless at random, and by mere accident:--and even the ancient masters of rhetoric (I mean those of the earliest date) have not so much as mentioned it, though they have left us a multitude of precepts upon the conduct and management of our style. For what is easiest, and most necessary to be known, is, for that reason, always first discovered. Metaphors, therefore, and new-made and compounded words, were easily invented, because they were borrowed from custom and conversation: but number was not selected from our domestic treasures, nor had the least intimacy or connection with common language; and, of consequence, not being noticed and understood till every other improvement had been made, it gave the finishing grace, and the last touches to the style of Eloquence.
As it may be remarked that one sort of language is interrupted by frequent breaks and intermissions, while another is flowing and diffusive; it is evident that the difference cannot result from the natural sounds of different letters, but from the various combinations of long and short syllables, with which our language, being differently blended and intermingled, will be either dull and motionless, or lively and fluent; so that every circumstance of this nature must be regulated by number. For by the assistance of numbers, the period, which I have so often mentioned before, pursues it's course with greater strength and freedom till it comes to a natural pause. It is therefore plain that the style of an Orator should be measured and harmonized by numbers, though entirely free from verse; but whether these numbers should be the same as those of the poets, or of a different species, is the next thing to be considered. In my opinion there can be no sort of numbers but those of the poets; because they have already specified all their different kinds with the utmost precision; for every number may be comprized in the three following varieties:--viz. a foot (which is the measure we apply to numbers) must be so divided, that one part of it will be either equal to the other, or twice as long, or equal to three halves of it. Thus, in a dactyl (breve-macron-macron) (long-short-short) the first syllable, which is the former part of the foot, is equal to the two others, in the iambic (macron-breve)(short-long) the last is double the first, and in the paeon (macron-macron-macron-breve, or breve-macron-macron-macron)(short- short-short-long, or long-short-short-short) one of its parts, which is the long syllable, is equal to two-thirds of the other. These are feet which are unavoidably incident to language; and a proper arrangement of them will produce a numerous style.
But it will here be enquired, What numbers should have the preference? To which I answer, They must all occur promiscuously; as is evident from our sometimes speaking verse without knowing it, which in prose is reckoned a capital fault; but in the hurry of discourse we cannot always watch and criticise ourselves. As to senarian and hipponactic [Footnote: Verses chiefly composed of iambics] verses, it is scarcely possible to avoid them; for a considerable part, even of our common language, is composed of iambics. To these, however, the hearer is easily reconciled; because custom has made them familiar to his ear. But through inattention we are often betrayed into verses which are not so familiar;--a fault which may easily be avoided by a course of habitual circumspection. Hieronymus, an eminent Peripatetic, has collected out of the numerous writings of Isocrates about thirty verses, most of them senarian, and some of them anapest, which in prose have a more disagreeable effect than any others. But he quotes them with a malicious partiality: for he cuts off the first syllable of the first word in a sentence, and annexes to the last word the first syllable of the following sentence; and thus he forms what is called an Aristophanean anapest, which it is neither possible nor necessary to avoid entirely. But, this redoubtable critic, as I discovered upon a closer inspection, has himself been betrayed into a senarian or iambic verse in the very paragraph in which he censures the composition of Isocrates.
Upon the whole, it is sufficiently plain that prose is susceptible of numbers, and that the numbers of an Orator must be the same as those of a Poet. The next thing to be considered is, what are the numbers which are most suitable to his character, and, for that reason, should occur more frequently than the rest? Some prefer the Iambic (macron-breve)(short- long) as approaching the nearest to common language; for which reason, they say, it is generally made use of in fables and comedies, on account of it's resemblance to conversation; and because the dactyl, which is the favourite number of hexameters, is more adapted to a pompous style. Ephorus, on the other hand, declares for the paeon and the dactyl; and rejects the spondee and the trochee (long short). For as the paeon has three short syllables, and the dactyl two, he thinks their shortness and celerity give a brisk and lively flow to our language; and that a different effect would be produced by the trochee and the spondee, the one consisting of short syllables, and the other of long ones;--so that by using the former, the current of our words would become too rapid, and too heavy by employing the latter, losing, in either case, that easy moderation which best satisfies the ear. But both parties seem to be equally mistaken: for those who exclude the paeon, are not aware that they reject the sweetest and fullest number we have. Aristotle was far from thinking as they do: he was of opinion that heroic numbers are too sonorous for prose; and that, on the other hand, the iambic has too much the resemblance of vulgar talk:--and, accordingly, he recommends the style which is neither too low and common, nor too lofty and extravagant, but retains such a just proportion of dignity, as to win the attention, and excite the admiration of the hearer. He, therefore, calls the trochee (which has precisely the same quantity as the choree) the rhetorical jigg [Footnote: Cordacem appellat. The cordax was a lascivious dance very full of agitation.]; because the shortness and rapidity of it's syllables are incompatible with the majesty of Eloquence. For this reason he recommends the paeon, and says that every person makes use of it, even without being sensible when he does so. He likewise observes that it is a proper medium between the different feet above-mentioned:--the proportion between the long and short syllables, in every foot, being either sesquiplicate, duple, or equal.
The authors, therefore, whom I mentioned before attended merely to the easy flow of our language, without any regard to it's dignity. For the iambic and the dactyl are chiefly used in poetry; so that to avoid versifying in prose, we must shun, as much as possible, a continued repetition of either; because the language of prose is of a different cast, and absolutely incompatible with verse. As the paeon, therefore, is of all other feet the most improper for poetry, it may, for that reason be more readily admitted into prose. But as to Ephorus, he did not reflect that even the spondee, which he rejects, is equal in time to his favourite dactyl; because he supposed that feet were to be measured not by the quantity, but the number of their syllables;--a mistake of which he is equally guilty when he excludes the trochee, which, in time and quantity, is precisely equal to the iambic; though it is undoubtedly faulty at the end of a period, which always terminates more agreeably in a long syllable than a short one. As to what Aristotle has said of the paeon, the same has likewise been said by Theophrastus and Theodectes.
But, for my part, I am rather of opinion that our language should be intermingled and diversified with all the varieties of number; for should we confine ourselves to any particular feet, it would be impossible to escape the censure of the hearer; because our style should neither be so exactly measured as that of the poets, nor entirely destitute of number, like that of the common people. The former, as being too regular and uniform, betrays an appearance of art; and the other, which is as much too loose and undetermined, has the air of ordinary talk; so that we receive no pleasure from the one, and are absolutely disgusted with the other. Our style, therefore, as I have just observed, should be so blended and diversified with different numbers, as to be neither too vague and unrestrained, nor too openly numerous, but abound most in the paeon (so much recommended by the excellent author above-mentioned) though still in conjunction with many other feet which he entirely omits.
But we must now consider what number like so many dashes of purple, should tincture and enrich the rest, and to what species of style they are each of them best adapted. The iambic, then, should be the leading number in those subjects which require a plain and simple style;--the paeon in such as require more compass and elevation; and the dactyl is equally applicable to both. So that in a discourse of any length and variety, it will be occasionally necessary to blend and intermingle them all. By this means, our endeavours to modulate our periods, and captivate the ear, will be most effectually concealed; especially, if we maintain a suitable dignity both of language and sentiment. For the hearer will naturally attend to these (I mean our words and sentiments) and to them alone attribute the pleasure he receives; so that while he listens to these with admiration, the harmony of our numbers will escape his notice: though it must indeed be acknowledged that the former would have their charms without the assistance of the latter. But the flow of our numbers is not to be so exact (I mean in prose, for in poetry the case is different) as that nothing may exceed the bounds of regularity; for this would be to compose a poem. On the contrary, if our language neither limps nor fluctuates, but keeps an even and a steady pace, it is sufficiently numerous; and it accordingly derives the title, not from its consisting entirely of numbers, but from its near approach to a numerous form. This is the reason why it is more difficult to make elegant prose, than to make verses; because there are fixed and invariable rules for the latter; whereas nothing is determined in the former, but that the current of our language should be neither immoderate nor defective, nor loose and unconfined. It cannot be supposed, therefore, to admit of regular beats and divisions, like a piece of music; but it is only necessary that the general compass and arrangement of our words should be properly restrained and limited,--a circumstance which must be left entirely to the decision of the ear.
Another question which occurs before us, is--whether an attention to our numbers should be extended to every part of a sentence, or only to the beginning and the end. Most authors are of opinion that it is only necessary that our periods should end well, and have a numerous cadence. It is true, indeed, that this ought to be principally attended to, but not solely: for the whole compass of our periods ought likewise to be regulated, and not totally neglected. As the ear, therefore, always directs it's view to the close of a sentence, and there fixes it's attention, it is by no means proper that this should be destitute of number: but it must also be observed that a period, from it's first commencement, should run freely on, so as to correspond to the conclusion; and the whole advance from the beginning with such an easy flow, as to make a natural, and a kind of voluntary pause. To those who have been we'll practised in the art, and who have both written much; and often attempted to discourse extempore with the same accuracy which they observe in their writings, this will be far less difficult than is imagined. For every sentence is previously formed and circumscribed in the mind of the Speaker, and is then immediately attended by the proper words to express it, which the same mental faculty (than which there is nothing more lively and expeditious) instantly dismisses, and sends off each to its proper post: but, in different sentences, their particular order and arrangement will be differently terminated; though, in every sentence, the words both in the beginning and the middle of it, should have a constant reference to the end. Our language, for instance, must sometimes advance with rapidity, and at other times it's pace must be moderate and easy; so that it will be necessary at the very beginning of a sentence, to resolve upon the manner in which you would have it terminate; but we must avoid the least appearance of poetry, both in our numbers, and in the other ornaments of language; though it is true, indeed, that the labours of the Orator must be conducted on the same principles as those of the Poet. For in each we have the same materials to work upon, and a similar art of managing them; the materials being words, and the art of managing them relating, in both cases, to the manner in which they ought to be disposed. The words also in each may be divided into three classes,--the __metaphorical_,--the new-coined,--and the antique;--for at present we have no concern with words proper:--and three parts may also be distinguished in the art of disposing them; which, I have already observed, are juncture, concinnity, and number. The poets make use both of one and the other more frequently, and with greater liberty than we do; for they employ the tropes not only much oftener, but more boldly and openly; and they introduce antique words with a higher taste, and new ones with less reserve. The same may be said in their numbers, in the use of which they are subjected to invariable rules, which they are scarcely ever allowed to transgress. The two arts, therefore, are to be considered neither as wholly distinct, nor perfectly conjoined. This is the reason why our numbers are not to be so conspicuous in prose as in verse; and that in prose, what is called a numerous style, does not always become so by the use of numbers, but sometimes either by the concinnity of our language, or the smooth juncture of our words.
To conclude this head; If it should be enquired, "What are the numbers to be used in prose?" I answer, "All; though some are certainly better, and more adapted to it's character than others."--If "Where is their proper seat?"--"In the different quantity of our syllables:"--If "From whence their origin?"--"From the sole pleasure of the ear:"--If "What the method of blending and intermingling them?"--"This shall be explained in the sequel, because it properly relates to the manner of using them, which was the fourth and last article in my division of the subject." If it be farther enquired, "For what purpose they are employed?" I answer,--"To gratify the ear:"--If "When?" I reply, "At all times:"--If "In what part of a sentence?" "Through the whole length of it:"--and if "What is the circumstance which gives them a pleasing effect?" "The same as in poetical compositions, whose metre is regulated by art, though the ear alone, without the assistance of art, can determine it's limits by the natural powers of sensation." Enough, therefore, has been said concerning the nature and properties of number. The next article to be considered is the manner in which our numbers should be employed,--a circumstance which requires to be accurately discussed.
Here it is usual to enquire, whether it is necessary to attend to our numbers through the whole compass of a period, [Footnote: Our author here informs us, that what the Greeks called [Greek: periodos], a period, was distinguished among the Romans by the words ambitus, circuitus, comprehensio, continuatio, and circumscriptio. As I thought this remark would appear much better in the form of a note, than in the body of the work, I have introduced it accordingly.] or only at the beginning or end of it, or equally in both. In the next place, as exact number seems to be one thing, and that which is merely numerous another, it might be enquired wherein lies the difference. We might likewise consider whether the members of a sentence should all indifferently be of the same length, whatever be the numbers they are composed of;--or whether, on this account, they should not be sometimes longer, and sometimes shorter;--and when, and for what reasons, they should be made so, and of what numbers they should be composed;--whether of several sorts, or only of one; and whether of equal or unequal numbers;--and upon what occasions either the one or the other of these are to be used;-and what numbers accord best together, and in what order; or whether, in this respect, there is no difference between them;--and (which has still a more immediate reference to our subject) by what means our style may be rendered numerous. It will likewise be necessary to specify the rise and origin of a periodical form of language, and what degree of compass should be allowed to it. After this, we may consider the members or divisions of a period, and enquire of how many kinds, and of what different lengths they are; and, if they vary in these respects, where and when each particular sort is to be employed: and, in the last place, the use and application of the whole is to be fully explained;--a very extensive subject, and which is capable of being accommodated not only to one, but to many different occasions. But without adverting to particulars, we may discuss the subject at large in such a manner as to furnish a satisfactory answer in all subordinate cases.
Omitting, therefore, every other species of composition, we shall attend to that which is peculiar to forensic causes. For in those performances which are of a different kind, such as history, panegyric, and all discourses which are merely ornamental, every sentence should be constructed after the exact manner of Isocrates and Theopompus; and with that regular compass, and measured flow of language, that our words may constantly run within the limits prescribed by art, and pursue a uniform course, till the period is completed. We may, therefore, observe that after the invention of this, periodical form, no writer of any account has made a discourse which was intended as a mere display of ornament, and not for the service of the Forum, without squaring his language, (if I may so express myself) and confining every sentence of it to the strictest laws of number. For as, in this case, the hearer has no motive to alarm his suspicions against the artifice of the speaker, he will rather think himself obliged to him than otherwise, for the pains he takes to amuse and gratify his ear. But, in forensic causes, this accurate species of composition is neither to be wholly adopted, nor entirely rejected. For if we pursue it too closely, it will create a satiety, and our attention to it will be discovered by the most illiterate observer. We may add, it will check the pathos and force of action, restrain the sensibility of the Speaker, and destroy all appearance of truth and open dealing. But as it will sometimes be necessary to adopt it, we must consider when, and how long, this ought to be done, and how many ways it may be changed and varied.
A numerous style, then, may be properly employed, either when any thing is to be commended in a free and ornamental manner, (as in my second Invective against Verres, where I spoke in praise of Sicily, and in my Speech before the Senate, in which I vindicated the honour of my consulship;)--or; in the next place, when a narrative is to be delivered which requires more dignity than pathos, (as in my fourth Invective, where I described the Ceres of the Ennensians, the Diana of the Segestani, and the situation of Syracuse.) It is likewise often allowable to speak in a numerous and flowing style, when a material circumstance is to be amplified. If I myself have not succeeded in this so well as might be wished, I have at least attempted it very frequently; and it is still visible in many of my Perorations, that I have exerted all the talents I was master of for that purpose. But this will always have most efficacy, when the Speaker has previously possessed himself of the hearer's attention, and got the better of his judgment. For then he is no longer apprehensive of any artifice to mislead him; but hears every thing with a favourable ear, wishes the Orator to proceed, and, admiring the force of his Eloquence, has no inclination to censure it.
But this measured and numerous flow of language is never to be continued too long, I will not say in the peroration, (of which the hearer himself will always be a capable judge) but in any other part of a discourse: for, except in the cases above-mentioned, in which I have shewn it is allowable, our style must be wholly confined to those clauses or divisions which we erroneously call incisa and membra; but the Greeks, with more propriety, the comma and colon [Footnote: The ancients apply these terms to the sense, and not to any points of distinction. A very short member, whether simple or compound, with them is a comma; and a longer, a colon; for they have no such term as a semicolon. Besides, they call a very short sentence, whether simple or compound, a comma; and one of somewhat a greater length, a colon. And therefore, if a person expressed himself either of these ways, in any considerable number of sentences together, he was said to speak by commas, or colons. But a sentence containing more words than will consist with either of these terms, they call a simple period; the least compound period with them requiring the length of two colons.
Ward's Rhetoric, volume 1st, page 344.]. For it is impossible that the names of things should be rightly applied, when the things themselves are not sufficiently understood: and as we often make use of metaphorical terms, either for the sake of ornament, or to supply the place of proper ones, so in other arts, when we have occasion to mention any thing which (through our unacquaintance with it) has not yet received a name, we are obliged either to invent a new one, or to borrow it from something similar. We shall soon consider what it is to speak in commas and colons, and the proper method of doing it: but we must first attend to the various numbers by which the cadence of our periods should be diversified.
Our numbers will advance more rapidly by the use of short feet, and more coolly and sedately by the use of long ones. The former are best adapted to a warm and spirited style, and the latter to sober narratives and explanations. But there are several numbers for concluding a period, one of which (called the dichoree, or double choree, and consisting of a long and a short syllable repeated alternately) is much in vogue with the Asiatics; though among different people the same feet are distinguished by different names. The dichoree, indeed, is not essentially bad for the close of a sentence: but in prosaic numbers nothing can be more faulty than a continued or frequent repetition of the same cadence: as the dichoree, therefore, is a very sonorous number, we should be the more sparing in the use of it, to prevent a satiety. C. Carbo, the son of Caius, and a Tribune of the people, once said in a public trial in which I was personally engaged,--"O Marce Druse, Patrem appello;" where you may observe two commas, each consisting of two feet. He then made use of the two following colons, each consisting of three feet,--"_Tu dicere solebas, sacram esse Rempublicam:"--and afterwards of the period,-- "Quicunque eam violavissent, ab omnibus esse ei poenas persolutas" which ends with a dichoree; for it is immaterial whether the last syllable is long or short. He added, "Patris dictum sapiens, temeritas filii comprobavit" concluding here also with a dichoree; which was received with such a general burst of applause, as perfectly astonished me. But was not this the effect of number?--Only change the order of the words, and say,--"Comprobavit filii temeritas" and the spirit of them will be lost, though the word temeritas consists of three short syllables and a long one, which is the favourite number of Aristotle, from whom, however, I here beg leave to dissent. The words and sentiments are indeed the fame in both cases; and yet, in the latter, though the understanding is satisfied, the ear is not. But these harmonious cadences are not to be repeated too often: for, in the first place, our numbers will be soon discovered,--in the next, they will excite the hearer's disgust,--and, at last, be heartily despised on account of the apparent facility with which they are formed.
But there are several other cadences which will have a numerous and pleasing effect: for even the cretic, which consists of a long, a short, and a long syllable, and it's companion the paeon, which is equal to it in quantity, though it exceeds it in the number of syllables, is reckoned a proper and a very useful ingredient in harmonious prose: especially as the latter admits of two varieties, as consisting either of one long and three short syllables, which will be lively enough at the beginning of a sentence, but extremely flat at the end;--or of three short syllables and a long one, which was highly approved of by the ancients at the close of a sentence, and which I would not wholly reject, though I give the preference to others. Even the sober spondee is not to be entirely discarded; for though it consists of two long syllables, and for that reason may seem rather dull and heavy, it has yet a firm and steady step, which gives it an air of dignity, and especially in the comma and the colon; so that it sufficiently compensates for the slowness of it's motion, by it's peculiar weight and solemnity. When I speak of feet at the close of a period, I do not mean precisely the last. I would be understood, at least, to include the foot which immediately precedes it; and, in many cases, even the foot before that. The iambic, therefore, which consists of a long syllable and a short one, and is equal in time, though not in the number of it's syllables, to a choree, which has three short ones; or even the dactyl, which consists of one long and two short syllables, will unite agreeably enough with the last foot of a sentence, when that foot is either a choree or a spondee; for it is immaterial which of them is employed. But the three feet I am mentioning, are neither of them very proper for closing a period, (that is, to form the last foot of it) unless when a dactyl is substituted for a cretic, for you may use either of them at pleasure; because, even in verse, it is of no consequence whether the last syllable is long or short. He, therefore, who recommended the paeon, as having the long syllable last, was certainly guilty of an oversight; because the quantity of the last syllable is never regarded. The paeon, however, as consisting of four syllables, is reckoned by some to be only a number, and not a foot. But call it which you please, it is in general, what all the ancients have represented it, (such as Aristotle, Theophrastus, Theodectes, and Euphorus) the fittest of all others both for the beginning and the middle of a period. They are likewise of opinion, that it is equally proper at the end; where, in my opinion, the cretic deserves the preference. The dochimus, which consists of five syllables, (i.e. a short and two long ones, and a short, and a long one, as in amicos tenes) may be used indifferently in any part of a sentence, provided it occurs but once: for if it is continued or repeated, our attention to our numbers will be discovered, and alarm the suspicion of the hearer. On the other hand, if we properly blend and intermingle the several varieties above-mentioned, our design will not be so readily noticed; and we shall also prevent that satiety which would arise from an elaborate uniformity of cadence.
But the harmony of language does not result entirely from the use of numbers, but from the juncture and composition of our words; and from that neatness and concinnity of expression which I have already mentioned. By composition, I here mean when our words are so judiciously connected as to produce an agreeable sound (independent of numbers) which rather appears to be the effect of nature than of art; as in the following passage from Crassus, Nam ubi lubido dominatur, innocentiae leve praesidium est [Footnote: In the sentence which is here quoted from Crassus, every word which ends with a consonant is immediately succeeded by another which begins with a vowel; and, vice versa, if the preceding word ends with a vowel, the next begins with a consonant.]: for here the mere order in which the words are connected, produces a harmony of sound, without any visible attention of the Speaker. When the ancients, therefore, (I mean Herodotus, and Thucydides, and all who flourished in the same age) composed a numerous and a musical period, it must rather be attributed to the casual order of their words, than to the labour and artifice of the writer.
But there are likewise certain forms of expression, which have such a natural concinnity, as will necessarily have a similar effect to that of regular numbers. For when parallel circumstances are compared, or opposite ones contrasted, or words of the same termination are placed in a regular succesion, they seldom fail to produce a numerous cadence. But I have already treated of these, and subjoined a few examples; so that we are hereby furnished with an additional and a copious variety of means to avoid the uniformity of cadence above-mentioned; especially as these measured forms of expression may be occasionally relaxed and dilated. There is, however, a material difference between a style which is merely numerous, (or, in other words, which has a moderate resemblance to metre) and that which is entirely composed of numbers: the latter is an insufferable fault; but our language, without the former, would be absolutely vague, unpolished, and dissipated.
But as a numerous style (strictly so called) is not frequently, and indeed but seldom admissible in forensic causes,--it seems necessary to enquire, in the next place, what are those commas and colons before-mentioned, and which, in real causes, should occupy the major part of an Oration. The period, or complete sentence, is usually composed of four divisions, which are called members, (or colons) that it may properly fill the ear, and be neither longer nor shorter than is requisite for that purpose. But it sometimes, or rather frequently happens, that a sentence either falls short of, or exceeds the limits of a regular period, to prevent it from fatiguing the ear on the one hand, or disappointing it on the other. What I mean is to recommend an agreeable mediocrity: for we are not treating of verse, but of rhetorical prose, which is confessedly more free and unconfined. A full period, then, is generally composed of four parts, which may be compared to as many hexameter verses, each of which have their proper points, or particles of continuation, by which they are connected so as to form a perfect period. But when we speak by colons, we interupt their union, and, as often as occasion requires (which indeed will frequently be the case) break off with ease from this laboured and suspicious flow of language; but yet nothing should be so numerous in reality as that which appears to be least so, and yet has a forcible effect. Such is the following passage in Crassus:--"Missos faciant patronos; ipsi prodeant." "Let them dismiss their patrons: let them answer for themselves." Unless "ipsi prodeant" was pronounced after a pause, the hearer must have discovered a complete iambic verse. It would have had a better cadence in prose if he had said "prodeant ipsi." But I am only to consider the species, and not the cadence of the sentence. He goes on, "Cur clandestinis consiliis nos oppugnant? cur de perfugis nostris copias comparant contra nos?" "Why do they attack us by clandestine measures? why do they collect forces against us from our own deserters?" In the former passage there are two commas: in the latter he first makes use of the colon, and afterwards of the period: but the period is not a long one, as only consisting of two colons, and the whole terminates in spondees. In this manner Crassus generally expressed himself; and I much approve his method. But when we speak either in commas, or colons, we should be very attentive to the harmony of their cadence: as in the following instance.--"Domus tibi deerat? at habebas. Pecunia superabat? at egebas." "Was you without a habitation? You had a house of your own. Was your pocket well provided? You was not master of a farthing." These are four commas; but the two following members are both colons;--"Incurristi omens in columnas, in alienos insanus insanisti."
"You rushed like a madman upon your best supporters; you vented your fury on your enemies withput mercy." The whole is afterwards supported by a full period, as by a solid basis;--"Depressam, caecam, jacentem domum, pluris quam te, et fortunas tuas aestimâsti." "You have shewn more regard to an unprosperous, an obscure, and a fallen family, than to your own safety and reputation." This sentence ends with a dichoree, but the preceeding one in a double spondee. For in those sentences which are to be used like daggers for close-fighting, their very shortness makes our numbers less exceptionable. They frequently consist of a single number;-- generally of two, with the addition perhaps of half a foot to each: and very seldom of more than three. To speak in commas or colons has a very good effect in real causes; and especially in those parts of an Oration where it is your business either to prove or refute: as in my second defence of Cornelius, where I exclaimed, "O callidos homines! O rem excogitatam! O ingenia metuenda!" "What admirable schemers! what a curious contrivance! what formidable talents!" Thus far I spoke in colons; and afterwards by commas; and then returned to the colon, in "Testes dare volumus," "We are willing to produce our witnesses." This was succeeded by the following period, consisting of two colons, which is the shortest that can be formed,--"Quem, quaeso, nostrûm sesellit ita vos esse facturos?" "Which of us, think you, had not the sense to foresee that you would proceed in this manner?"
There is no method of expressing ourselves which, if properly timed, is more agreeable or forcible, than these rapid turns, which are completed in two or three words, and sometimes in a single one; especially, when they are properly diversified, and intermingled here and there with a numerous period; which Egesias avoids with such a ridiculous nicety, that while he affects to imitate Lysias (who was almost a second Demosthenes) he seems to be continually cutting capers, and clipping sentence after sentence. He is as frivolous in his sentiments as in his language: so that no person who is acquainted with his writings, need to seek any farther for a coxcomb. But I have selected several examples from Crassus, and a few of my own, that any person, who is so inclined, may have an opportunity of judging with his own ears, what is really numerous, as well in the shortest as in any other kind of sentences.
Having, therefore, treated of a numerous style more copiously than any author before me, I shall now proceed to say something of it's utility. For to speak handsomely, and like an Orator (as no one, my Brutus, knows better than yourself) is nothing more than to express the choicest sentiments in the finest language. The noblest thoughts will be of little service to an orator, unless he is able to communicate them in a correct and agreeable style: nor will the splendor of our expressions appear to a proper advantage, unless they are carefully and judiciously ranged. Permit me to add, that the beauty of both will be considerably heightened by the harmony of our numbers:--such numbers (for I cannot repeat it too often) as are not only not cemented together, like those of the poets, but which avoid all appearance of metre, and have as little resemblance to it as possible; though it is certainly true that the numbers themselves are the same, not only of the Poets and Orators, but of all in general who exercise the faculty of speech, and, indeed, of every instrument which produces a sound whose time can be measured by the ear. It is owing entirely to the different arrangement of our feet that a sentence assumes either the easy air of prose, or the uniformity of verse. Call it, therefore, by what name you please (Composition, Perfection, or Number) it is a necessary restraint upon our language; not only (as Aristotle and Theophrastus have observed) to prevent our sentences (which should be limited neither by the breath of the speaker, nor the pointing of a transcriber, but by the sole restraint of number) from running on without intermission like a babbling current of water; but chiefly, because our language, when properly measured, has a much greater effect than when it is loose and unconfined. For as Wrestlers and Gladiators, whether they parry or make an assault, have a certain grace in their motions, so that every effort which contributes to the defence or the victory of the combatants, presents an agreeable attitude to the eye: so the powers of language can neither give nor evade an important blow, unless they are gracefully exerted. That style, therefore, which is not regulated by numbers, is to me as unbecoming as the motions of a Gladiator who has not been properly trained and exercised: and so far is our language from being enervated by a skilful arrangement of our words (as is pretended by those who, for want either of proper instructors, capacity, or diligence, have not been able to attain it) that, on the contrary, without this, it is impossible it should have any force or efficacy.
But it requires a long and attentive course of practice to avoid the blemishes of those who were unacquainted with this numerous species of composition, so as not to transpose our words too openly to assist the cadence and harmony of our periods; which L. Caelius Antipater, in the Introduction to his Punic War, declares he would never attempt, unless when compelled by necessity. "O virum simplicem," (says he, speaking of himself) "qui nos nihil celat; sapientem, qui serviendum necessitati putet." "O simple man, who has not the skill his art to conceal; and yet to the rigid laws of necessity he has the wisdom to submit." But he was totally unskilled in composition. By us, however, both in writing and speaking, necessity is never admitted as a valid plea; for, in fact, there is no such thing as an absolute constraint upon the order and arrangement of our words; and, if there was, it is certainly unnecessary to own it. But Antipater, though he requests the indulgence of Laelius, to whom he dedicates his work, and attempts to excuse himself, frequently transposes his words without contributing in the least either to the harmony, or agreeable cadence of his periods.
There are others, and particularly the Asiatics, who are such slaves to number, as to insert words which have no use nor meaning to fill up the vacuities in a sentence. There are likewise some who, in imitation of Hegesias (a notorious trifler as well in this as in every other respect) curtail and mince their numbers, and are thus betrayed into the low and paltry style of the Sicilians. Another fault in composition is that which occurs in the speeches of Hierocles and Menecles, two brothers, who may be considered as the princes of Asiatic Eloquence, and, in my opinion, are by no means contemptible: for though they deviate from the style of nature, and the strict laws of Atticism, yet they abundantly compensate the defect by the richness and fertility of their language. But they have no variety of cadence, and their sentences are almost always terminated in the same manner. He therefore, who carefully avoids these blemishes, and who neither transposes his words too openly,--nor inserts any thing superfluous or unmeaning to fill up the chasms of a period,--nor curtails and clips his language, so as to interrupt and enervate the force of it,-- nor confines himself to a dull uniformity of cadence,--he may justly be said to avoid the principal and most striking defects of prosaic harmony. As to its positive graces, these we have already specified; and from thence the particular blemishes which are opposite to each, will readily occur to the attentive reader.
Of what consequence it is to regulate the structure of our language, may be easily tried by selecting a well-wrought period from some Orator of reputation, and changing the arrangement of the words; [Footnote: Professor Ward has commented upon an example of this kind from the preface to the Vth volume of the Spectator:--"You have acted in so much consistency with yourself, and promoted the interests of your country in so uniform a manner; that even those, who would misrepresent your generous designs for the public good, cannot but approve the steadiness and intredipity, with which you pursue them." I think, says the Doctor, this may be justly esteemed an handsome period. It begins with ease, rises gradually till the voice is inflected, then sinks again, and ends with a just cadency, And perhaps there is not a word in it, whole situation would be altered to an advantage. Let us now but shift the place of one word in the last member, and we shall spoil the beauty of the whole sentence. For if, instead of saying, as it now stands, cannot but approve the steadiness and intrepidity, with which you pursue them; we put it thus, cannot but approve the steadiness and intrepidity which you pursue them with; the cadency will be flat and languid, and the harmony of the period entirely lost. Let us try it again by altering the place of the two last members, which at present stand in this order, that even those who would misrepresent your generous designs for the public good, cannot but approve the steadiness and intrepidity, with which you pursue them. Now if the former member be thrown last, they will run thus, that even those cannot but approve the steadiness and intrepidity, with which you pursue them, who would misrepresent your generous designs for the public good. Here the sense is much obscured by the inversion of the relative them, which ought to refer to something that went before, and not to the words generous designs, which in this situation of the members are placed after it. WARD'S Rhetoric. Vol. 1, p. 338, 339.] the beauty of it would then be mangled and destroyed. Suppose, for instance, we take the following passage from my Defence of Cornelius,--"Neque me divitae movent, quibus omnes Africanos et Laelios, multi venalitii mercatoresque superarunt." "Nor am I dazzled by the splendor of wealth, in which many retailers, and private tradesmen have outvied all the Africani and the Lelii" Only invert the order a little, and say,--"Multi superârunt mercatores, venatitiique," and the harmony of the period will be loft. Try the experiment on the next sentence;--"Neque vestes, aut celatum aurum, & argentum, quo nostros veteres Marcellos, Maximosque multi eunuchi e Syriâ Egyptoque vicerunt:" Nor do. I pay the least regard to costly habits, or magnificent services of plate, in which many eunuchs, imported from Syria and Egypt, have far surpassed the illustrious Marcelli, and the Maximi. Alter the disposition of the words into, "vicerunt eunuchi e Syria, Egyptoque," and the whole beauty of the sentence will be destroyed. Take a third passage from the same paragraph;--"_Neque vero ornamenta ista villarum, quibus Paulum & L. Mummium, qui rebus his urbem, Italiamque omnem reserserunt, ab aliquo video perfacile Deliaco aut Syro potuisse superari:"--"Nor the splendid ornaments of a rural villa, in which I daily behold every paltry Delian and Syrian outvying the dignity of Paulus and Lucius Mummius, who, by their victories, supplied the whole city, and indeed every part of Italy, with a super- fluity of these glittering trifles!" Only change the latter part of the sentence into,-- "potuisse superari ab aliquo Syro aut Deliaco," and you will see, though the meaning and the words are still the same, that, by making this slight alteration in the order, and breaking the form of the period, the whole force and spirit of it will be lost.
On the other hand, take one of the broken sentences of a writer unskilled in composition, and make the smallest alteration in the arrangement of the words,--and that which before was loose and disordered, will assume a just and a regular form. Let us, for instance, take the following passage from the speech of Gracchus to the Censors;--"Abesse non potest, quin ejusdem hominis fit, probos improbare, qui improbos probet;" "There is no possibility of doubting that the same person who is an enemy to virtue, must be a friend to vice." How much better would the period have terminated if he had said,--"quin ejusdem hominis fit, qui improbos probet, probos improbare!"--"that the same person who is a friend to vice, must be an enemy to virtue!" There is no one who would object to the last:--nay, it is impossible that any one who was able to speak thus, should have been willing to express himself otherwise. But those who have pretended to speak in a different manner, had not skill enough to speak as they ought; and for that reason, truly, we must applaud them for their Attic taste;--as if the great DEMOSTHENES could speak like an Asiatic [Footnote: Quasi vero Trallianus fuerit Demosthenes.] Trallianus signifies an inhabitant of Tralles, a city in the lesser Asia, between Caria and Lydia. The Asiatics, in the estimation of Cicero, were not distinguished by the delicacy of their taste.,--that Demosthenes, whose thunder would have lost half it's force, if it's flight had not been accelerated by the rapidity of his numbers.
But if any are better pleased with a broken and dissipated style, let them follow their humour, provided they condescend to counterbalance it by the weight, and dignity of their sentiments: in the same manner, as if a person should dash to pieces the celebrated shield of Phidias, though he would destroy the symmetry of the whole, the fragments would still retain their separate beauty;--or, as in the history of Thucydides, though we discover no harmony in the structure of his periods, there are yet many beauties which excite our admiration. But these triflers, when they present us with one of their rugged and broken sentences, in which there is neither a thought, nor word, but what is low and puerile, appear to me (if I may venture on a comparison which is not indeed very elevated, but is strictly applicable to the case in hand) to have untied a besom, that we may contemplate the scattered twigs. If, however, they wish to convince us that they really despise the species of composition which I have now recommended, let them favour us with a few lines in the taste of Isocrates, or such as we find in the orations of Aeschines and Demosthenes. I will then believe they decline the use of it, not from a consciousness of their inability to put it in practice, but from a real conviction of it's futility; or, at least, I will engage to find a person, who, on the same condition, will undertake either to speak or write, in any language they may please to fix upon, in the very manner they propose. For it is much easier to disorder a good period, than to harmonize a bad one.
But, to speak my whole meaning at once, to be scrupulously attentive to the measure and harmony of our periods, without a proper regard to our sentiments, is absolute madness:--and, on the other hand, to speak sensibly and judiciously, without attending to the arrangement of our words, and the regularity of our periods, is (at the best) to speak very awkwardly; but it is such a kind of awkwardness that those who are guilty of it, may not only escape the title of blockheads, but pass for men of good-sense and understanding;--a character which those speakers who are contented with it, are heartily welcome to enjoy! But an Orator who is expected not only to merit the approbation, but to excite the wonder, the acclamations, and the plaudits of those who hear him, must excel in every part of Eloquence, and be so thoroughly accomplished, that it would be a disgrace to him that any thing should be either seen or heard with greater pleasure than himself.
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Thus, my Brutus, I have given you my opinion of a complete Orator; which you are at liberty either to adopt or reject, as your better judgment shall incline you. If you see reason to think differently, I shall have no objection to it; nor so far indulge my vanity as to presume that my sentiments, which I have so freely communicated in the present Essay, are more just and accurate than yours. For it is very possible not only that you and I may have different notions, but that what appears true even to myself at one time, may appear otherwise at another. Nor only in the present case, which be determined by the taste of the multitude, and the capricious pleasure of the ear (which are, perhaps, the most uncertain judges we can fix upon)--but in the most important branches of science, have I yet been able to discover a surer rule to direct my judgment, than to embrace that which has the greatest appearance of probability: for Truth is covered with too thick a veil to be distinguished to a certainty. I request, therefore, if what I have advanced should not have the happiness to merit your approbation, that you will be so much my friend as to conclude, either that the talk I have attempted is impracticable, or that my unwillingness to disoblige you has betrayed me into the rash presumption of undertaking a subject to which my abilities are unequal.
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