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figures of sentiment, he may sometimes indulge in those which are not remarkably bold and striking. Thus, for instance, we must not allow him to introduce the republic as speaking, not 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 neither be required nor expected from the simple orator before us; for, as to his voice, so likewise in his language, he should be ever easy and composed : yet 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 its 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 humor. 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 the powers of which 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, or 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 character 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 humor.
Such is the idea which I have formed of a simple and an easy speaker, who is likewise a very masterly one.
But there is a second character, 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 that will be noticed in the sequel. In this second or intermediate kind, 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 : all the ornaments of language may be employed in it without reserve ; and the flow of the numbers should be ever soft and harmonious. Many of the Greeks have practised 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 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.
* There is nothing which CICERO so earnestly inculcates as an attention to decorum, a just sense of which is not less important in speech than in any other part of our conduct. It is through an igno. rance of this, he says, that people err most frequently; for the same strain of language and of sentiment cannot be suited to every fortune, every rank, every age, every place, time, or audience. We should always consider what is becoming in every part of a discourse, as well as in every action of life-what is suggested by the nature of the subject,—what is consistent with the characters of those who speak, and of those who hear.
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 style, which is interwoven with all the beautiful embroidery both of language and sentiment.
The third character is the extensive, the copious, the majestic orator, who possesses the powers of eloquence 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 is the eloquence that alarms, and sooths them at pleasure !--This is the cloquence 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 that engrafts opinions which are new, and eradicates the old; but yet is widely different from the two characters abovementioned.
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 exhibition ; 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 neryous, the fierce, the flaming orator, if he is born for this alone, and only practises 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 calmly, nothing gently, nothing methodically, nothing clearly, distinctly, or humorously, (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 hearers, will appear to rare before men of under
nothing standing, and to reel, like a person intoxicated, in the midst of sober company.
He then is an orator indeed, who can speak upon humble subjects with simplicity and art,—upon weighty ones with energy and pathos, -and upon those of middling import with calmness and moderation *.
As all the smaller varieties of style are absorbed or included in those three grand distinctions, instead of vainly attempting to throw any new light on a subject illustrated by the full blaze of Cicero's genius, I shall beg leave to explain the method which I have found by experience best calculated to form the style of youth, and to put their talents to the utmost stretch of improving exertion.
I am surprised that teachers have not been often struck with the bad effect of putting into the hands of boys books of extracts, or selections from the works of admired writers, and making them get by heart the most striking passages as ornaments of the memory. Such a practice has a direct tendency to fill their minds with a confused jumble of splendid images, to vitiate their taste; and, when they take the pen in hand, to make them disfigure their own writings by strained attempts at something very fine and brilliant, in imitation of what they have been taught to admire. They are accustomed to look at prominent beauties, and never think of the less remarkable but more useful parts, which form the ground of the whole, and out of which all real beauties must naturally arise. No wonder, that such a course of reading and study should produce a great number of pedants and coxcombs! “Distilled books, says Lord Bacon, are like common distilled waters, flashy things.”
These extracts are taken with very few alterations from Jones's translation of Cicero's Orator ad Brutum.”