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which it was carried by Demosthenes and Cicero% and their productions which have come down to us give the most satisfactory proofs that they were consummate masters of their art, and that they excelled in it, not less by the extent and variety of their knowledge, than the brilliancy of their genius. In our own times, we fee the esfects produced by rude and unpolished eloquence upon the minds of the common people in the harangues of crafty demagogues, and the sermons of itinerant enthusiasts: it is evident, therefore, what a powerful instrument of persuasion it may be, when placed in the hands of well-educated persons, who to all the advantages of abilities, voice, and action, which ignorant speakers may possess, unite the guidance of rules, and an acquaintance with the best examples \
Nor will a knowledge of the principles of Rheto* Tic, upon which the chief beauties of composition depend for their grace and effect, be of inconsiderable use to the heprer or reader, as well as the speaker. It will enable them to understand the principles of composition in general, whether in verse or prose, and to form a right judgment of its merits.
If objections be ever raised against eloquence, considered as a faculty, which may be made the in
1 For the principal topics of tbis chapter, I am indebted to that rich storehouse of knowledge, the Encyclopædia BritanBica, article Oratory; and likewise to Aristotle's Rhetoric, Cicero de Oratore, de Inventione; and Quintilian.
strument strumentof evil as well as of good, it is obvious that similar objections may be urged against the exercise of the faculty of reason, as it i3 too-often employed to lead men into error. But no one would think of bringing a serious argument from this abuse of the intellectual powers against the improvement of our understandings ". Reason, eloquence, and every art most essential to the comfort of life, are liable to be misapplied, and may prove dangerous in the bands of bad men; but it would argue an excess of levity to contend, that upon this account they ought to be neglected. While the orator employs his talents, and practices the rules of his profession, in the pursuit of that end for which it was originally designed,—the persuading men to good and virtuous actions, and the dissuading them from every measure that is dishonourable and vicious; nothing can be more excellent in itself, or more useful to society.
Eloquence is the art of/peaking and writing with elegance and dignity, in order to please, inJlruB, and persuade. Elegance consists in the purity and perspicuity of language. Purity may be acquired by studying the most excellent authors, conversing with the best company, and the frequent practice of composition. Perspicuity consists in making use of clear and intelligible expressions, in avoiding ambiguous words, affefited brevity, long and perplexed periods,
"See Quintilian's admirable chapter, An utilisjit Rhetorics, lib. ii. c. 17.
8 and and confused metaphors. Isa composition be perspicuous, the fense of it will strike the mind, in the same manner as the light of the fun does the eyes, even if you do not look attentively at the fun itself". Dignity arises from sublime thoughts, and noble and elevated tropes and sigures.
It may be thought unreasonable to fetter the mind by systems, and restrain the flights of eloquence by rules. But it is evident from experience and observation, that rules may greatly assist genius, provided they point out the right road, without consining the learner to a single track, from which he is told it is unlawful to deviate. They are undoubtedly necessary before practice gives that ease, which may enable him to trust to his own vrell-regulated exertions, and to proceed without a guide.
To enumerate the various rules of Rhetoric would require too minute a detail; and they will be best learnt from those writers, who both in ancient and modern times have obtained great reputation by their works upon the subject. Such are Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, and their faithful followers, Blair, Campbell, and Fenelon. To ascertain the leading principles relating to eloquence in general, it may be sufficient to consider the subject under four distinct heads.
w Quint, lib. viii.
t. The sources of argument.
II. The different kinds of style.
III. The ornaments of a composition.
IVi The arrangement of the different parts of a composition.
V. Propriety of delivery and action. ■
I. The Sources of Argument.
The basis of all eloquence is inxent'ton. This Faculty, strictly speaking, relates to discovery rather than creation, and must be understood to signify new associations of those ideas which had been previously stored in the mind. It is this which enables the speaker to form such topics as are necessary for the statement, explanation, and illustration of his subject, with a view to conciliate the minds of his hearers, and engage them in his savour. A liveliness of imagination, and a quickness of thought, are great assistants to invention; and they who possess these gifts of nature, are found to be rarely at a loss for reasons to defend truth and detect error. Of this prime faculty the molt eminent orators and poets were in full possession; ■ and we sind that so far from giving us any cause to complain of barrenness of invention, they display the abundant produce of intellectual fertility. This remark is particularly justisied, among other instances, by the examples of Homer, Plato, and Cicero.
Accurate learning and extensive knowledge, the Vol. I. o prospects prospects of nature, the discoveries of art—the aids of education—and the results of experience and observation upon mankind, are the proper funds to supply this faculty with its requisite stores. Hence are furnished the various topics, whether external or internal, which are applicable to the different kinds of causes, whether demonstrative, deliberative, or judicial, and which are treated of at large by the Rhetoricians, and particularly by Aristotle and Cicero. The judgment must ever be active in the right application of the assistance, which genius and extensive knowledge can bring to every particular subject; whatever is trifling or superfluous must be rejected; and nothing admitted into a composition that is not fully to the purpose, and calculated to answer the end originally proposed.
ll. The different kinds of Style.
Style is the manner in which a person expresses himself by means of words, and it is characteristic of his thoughts. It is the description or picture of his mind. As eloquence derives its chief excellence, beauty, and splendour from style; it is of the greatest importance to the orator to be well acquainted with its various kinds.
Every country possesses, not only a peculiar language, but a peculiar style, suited to the temper and genius of its inhabitants. The Eastern nations are remarkable for diction, which is full