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rect a defect in his speech. He practised at home with a naked sword hanging over his shoulder, that he might check an ungraceful motion, to which he was subject. Hence the example of this great man affords the highest encouragement to every student of eloquence; since it shows how far art and application availed for acquir ing an excellence, which nature appeared willing to deny.
No orator had ever a finer field than Demosthenes in his Olynthiacs and Philippics, which are his capital orations; and undoubtedly to the greatness of the subject, and to that integrity and public spirit, which breathe in them, they owe much of their mirit. The object is to rouse the indignation of his countrymen against Philip of Macedon, the public enemy of the liberties of Greece; and to guard them against the insidious measures, by which that crafty prince endeavoured to lay them asleep to danger. To attain this end, we see him using every proper mean to animate a people, distinguished by justice, humanity, and valour; but in many instances become corrupt and degenerate. He boldly accuses them of venality, indolence, and indifference to the public cause; while at the same time he reminds them of the glory of their ancestors, and of their present reHis cotemporary orators, who were bribed by Philip, and persuaded the people to peace, he openly reproaches, as traitors to their country. He not only prompts to vigorous measures, but lays down the plan
of execution. His orations are strongly animated, and full of the impetuosity and fire of public spirit. His composition is not distinguished by ornament and splendour. It is energy of thought, peculiarly his own, which forms his character, and sets him above all others, He seems not to attend to words, but to things. We forget the orator, and think of the subject. He has no parade; no studied introductions; but is like a man full of his subject, who, after preparing his audience by a sentence or two for hearing plain truths, enters directly on business.
The style of Demosthenes is strong and concise, though sometimes harsh and abrupt. His words are very expressive, and his arrangement firm and manly. Negligent of little graces, he aims at that sublime which lies in sentiment. His action and pronunciation were uncommonly vehement and ardent. His character is of the austere, rather than of the gentle kind. He is always grave, serious, passionate; never degrading himself, nor attempting any thing like pleasantry. If his admirable eloquence be in any respect faulty, it is in this, he sometimes borders on the hard and dry. He may be thought to want smoothness and grace; which is attributed to his imitating too closely the manner of Thucydides, who was his great model for style, and whose history he transcribed eight times with his own hand. But these defects are more than compensated by that masterly force of masculine eloquence, which, as it
overpowered all who heard it, cannot in the present day
be read without emotion.
HAVING treated of eloquence among the Greeks, we now proceed to consider its progress among the Romans; where we shall find one model at least of eloquence in its most splendid form. The Romans derived their eloquence, poetry, and learning, from the Greeks; and were far inferior to them in genius for all these accomplishments. They had neither their vivacity, nor sensibility; their passions were not so easily moved, nor their conceptions so lively; in comparison with them they were a phlegmatic people. Their lan guage resembled their character; it was regular, firm and stately; but wanted that expressive simplicity, that flexibility to suit every different species of composition, by which the Greek tongue is peculiarly distinguished. Hence we always find in Greek productions more native genius; in Roman, more regularity and art.
As the Roman government,, during the republic, was of the popular kind, public speaking early became the mean of acquiring power and distinction. But in the unpolished times of the state their speaking hardly deserved the name of eloquence. It was but a short time before the age of Cicero, that the Roman orators rose 0 2
into any reputation. Crassus and Antonius seem to have been the most eminent; but, as none of their works are extant, nor any of Hortensius's, who was Cicero's rival at the bar, it is not necessary to transcribe what Cicero said of them, and of the character of their eloquence.
The object, most worthy of our attention, is Cicero himself; whose name alone suggests every thing splendid in oratory. With his life and character in other respects we are not at present concerned. We shall view him only as an eloquent speaker; and endeavour to mark both his virtues and defects. His virtues are eminently great. In all his orations art is conspicu ous. He begins commonly with a regular exordi um, and with much address prepossesses the hear ers, and studies to gain their affections. His methed is clear, and his arguments arranged with great propriety. In clearness of method he has advantage over Demosthenes. Every thing is in its proper place: he never attempts to move before he has endeavoured to convince; and in moving, particularly the softer passions, he is very successful. No one ever knew the force of words better than Cicero. He rolls them along with the greatest beauty and pomp; and in the structure of his sentences is eminently curious and exact. He is always full and flowing; never abrupt. He amplifies every thing; yet, though his manner is on the whole diffuse, it is often happily varied, and suited to the subject. When a great public object roused his
mind, and demanded indignation and force, he departs considerably from that loose and declamatory, manner, to which he at other times is addicted, and becomes very forcible and vehement.
This great orator, however, is not without defects. In most of his orations there is too much art. He seems often desirous of obtaining admiration, rather than of operating conviction. He is sometimes therefore showy, rather than solid; and diffuse, where he ought to be urgent. His periods are always round and sonorous; they cannot be accused of monotony, for they possess variety of cadence; but, from too great fondness for magnificence, he is sometimes deficient in strength. Though the services which he performed for his country, were very considerable, yet he is too much his own panegyrist. Ancient manners, which imposed fewer restraints on the side of decorum, may in some degree excuse, but cannot entirely justify his vanity.
Whether Demosthenes or Cicero were the most perfect orator is a question, on which critics are not agreed. Fenelon, the celebrated Archbishop of Cambray, and author of Telemachus, seems to have stated their merits with great justice and perspicuity. His judgment is given in his reflections on rhetoric and po etry. We shall translate the passage, though not, it is feared, without losing much of the spirit of the original. I do not hesitate to declare," says he, "that I