Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

course; and it is a reproach to any one, whose profession calls him to speak in public, to be unacquainted with them. In all the ancient rhetorical writers, there is, indeed, this defect, that they are too systematical, as I formerly showed; they aim at doing too much; at reducing rhetoric to a complete and perfect art, which may even supply invention with materials on every subject; insomuch, that one would imagine they expected to form an orator by rule, in as mechanical a manner as one would form a carpenter. Whereas, all that can, in truth, be done, is to give openings for assisting and enlightening taste, and for pointing out to genius the course it ought to hold.

Aristotle laid the foundation for all that was afterwards written on the subject. That amazing and comprehensive genius, which does honour to human nature, and which gave light unto so many different sciences, has investigated the principles of rhetoric with great penetration. Aristotle appears to have been the first who took rheioric out of the hands of sophists, and introduced reasoning and good sense into the art. Some of the profoundest things which have been written on the passions and manners of men, are to be found in his Treatise on Rhetoric; though in this, as in all his writings, his great brevity often renders him obscure. Succeeding Greek rhetoricians, most of whom are now lost, improved on the foundation which Aristotle had laid. Two of them still remain, Demetrius Phalereus, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus; both write on the construction of sentences, and deserve to be perused; especially Dionysius, who is a very accurate and judicious critic.

I need scarcely recommend the rhetorical writings of Cicero. Whatever, on the subject of eloquence, comes from so great an orator, must be worthy of attention. His most considerable work on that subject is that De Oratore, in three books. None of Cicero's writings are more highly finished than this treatise. The dialogue is polite; the characters well supported, and the conduct of the whole is beautiful and agreeable. It is, indeed, full of digressions, and his rules and observations may be thought sometimes too vague and general. Useful things, however, may be learned from it; and it is no small benefit to be made acquainted with Cicero's own idea of eloquence. The “Orator ad M. Brutum,' is also a considerable treatise: and, in general, throughout Cicero's rhetorical works there run those high and sublime ideas of eloquence, which are fitted both for forming a just taste, and for creating that enthusiasm for the art, which is of the greatest consequence for excelling in it.

But of all the ancient writers on the subject of oratory, the most instructive, and most useful, is Quintilian. I know few books which abound more with good sense, and discover a greater degree of just and accurate taste, than Quintilian's institutions. Almost all the principles of good criticism are to be found in them. He has digested into excellent order all the ancient ideas concerning rhetoric; and is, at the same time, himself an eloquent writer. Though some parts of his work contain too much of the technical and artificial system then in vogue, and for that reason may be dry and te

dious, yet I would not advise the omitting to read any part of his institutions. To pleaders at the bar, even these technical parts may prove of much use. Seldom has any person, of more sound and distinct judgment than Quintilian, applied himself to the study of the art of oratory.

QUESTIONS. Of what has our author now fully illustrated ? On all great subjects and treated; but before finishing this sub- occasions, what is the effect of noble ject, what suggestions may be of use? sentiments ? What do they give to one's To be an eloqunt speaker, is far from discourse ? Here, what will not avail, what? What, however, is a matter and of an assumed character, what not very difficult? Of this, what is ob- is observed ? What only can transmit served? What is the idea which our the emotion to others; and hence, what author has endeavoured to give of elo-follows? What, therefore, is necessary quence? What natural and acquired for those who would excel in any of talents must concur for carrying this to the higher kinds of oratory? Whenevperfection ? About what, then, is thereer these become dead, or callous, what little reason to wonder? Why should will be the consequence? What are we not, however, despair ? Of the the sentiments and dispositions particunumber of orators, of the highest class, larly requisite for them to cultivate? what is here observed? What advan- What are extremely averse to elotage has the study of oratory above that quence? What does such a disposition of poetry? In eloquence, what station bespeak? What are the characteristica may one possess with dignity; and of a true orator ? Joined with the manwhat does eloquence admit? What is a ly virtues, he should, at the same time, trilling inquiry? What parts do nature possess what? What must also be stuand art, respectively, take in attain-died by every public speaker? Why is ments of all kinds ? What is certain? modesty essential ? But why ought it By this remark, what does our author not to run into excessive timidity ? mean? How is this illustrated ? After What, in the second place, is most esthese preliminary observations, to what sential to an orator? What do Cicero do we proceed? In the first place, what and Quintilian say on this subject; and stands highest in the order of means; what are the foundation of all good and why? Among whom was this a speaking? How is this remark illusfavourite position ? To find what, gives trated ? What only can attention to pleasure; and what can be clearly style, composition, and all the arts of shown? What is the first consideration speech, do? Of what must he who is to support this remark? What is the to plead at the bar, make himself thoeffect of these ? On the other hand, roughly master ? To what study must what opinion of the speaker will de- he who is speaking from the pulpit, closestroy the effect of his eloquence ? ly apply himself; and why? What Though it may entertain and amuse, course must be pursued by him who yet how is it viewed? How is this subject would fit himself for being a member of further illustrated ? But, lest it should be the supreme council of the nation ? said that this relates only to the charac- Besides the knowledge that properly ter of virtue, what does our author fur- belongs to his profession, with what ther observe ? How does it appear that must a public speaker make himself nothing is so favourable as virtue to the acquainted? What advantage will reprosecution of honourable studies ? In sult from the study of poetry, and of what language has Quintilian touched history? What remarks follow? What, this consideration very properly? But in the third place, is recommended; besides this consideration, what other, why; and what must we not imagine ? of still higher importance, is there that How, only, can eminence be attained ? deserves attention? How is this remark As this is a fixed law of our nature, what is said of him who can believe just idea of it? Of this idea, when achimself an exception to it? Why is it quired, what use should we make ? a very wise law of our nature ? Or that Why have exercises in speaking alrelaxed state of mind which arises ways been recommended to students ? from indolence or dissipation, what is of the societies into which they someobserved ? By what will one be known times form themselves for this purpose, who is destined to excel in any art? Of what is observed ? How do they become this, what is observed ? If youth wants favourable to knowledge and study? it, what will be the consequence? In What do they produce; and to what the fourth place, what will contributedo they gradually mure those who are greatly towards improvement? What engaged in them? To what do they should every one who speaks endeavour accustom them; and what is, perto have; and what is the effect of sla-haps, their greatest advantage? What vish imitation ? But, what remark fol- meetings are here to be understood ? lows? What do they do?

What institutions are not merely useOn what will much depend ? And less, but hurtful in their nature? Of supposing them rightly chosen, about proving what, are they in great hawhat is a farther care requisite; and zard ? Into what do they mislead those why? What should we study to ac-who, in their own calling, might be usequire? Why should not one attach him- ful members of society ? Even of the self too closely to any single model ? allowable meetings into which students What should be his business? What is of oratory form themselves, what is obhere not expected ? Of ancient and served ? Under what circumstances modern writers, from whom benefit may may they improve themselves in petube derived, what is here observed? lance, but infallibly form themselves to What does our author own is to be re- a very faulty and vicious taste in speakgretted ? Among the French, in the ing? What advice is, therefore, given different departments of oratory, whose to all who are members of such socienames are mentioned ? Concerning the ties? What will be the effect of pursuimitation of the style of any favourite ing this course? What inquiry, only, author, to what distinction must we now remains? Of these, what is obser: attend? Of these, what is observed ; ved ? For professed writers on public and how is this illustrated ? What style speaking, where must we look? Of does speaking admit; and o it, what is popular eloquence among the moderns, farther observed ? Hence, what fol- what is observed ? What is said of Jolows ? What example of illustration is annes Gerardus Vossius ? Among the given? Of some kinds of public dis- French, the names of what writers on course, what is observed? But still this subject appear; and what is said there is what? To what does some au- of them? To whom, chiefly, must we thors' manner of writing approach more have recourse; and what remark folnearly than others; and what is the lows? What defect, however, is there, consequence? Who are of this class ? in all the ancient rhetorical writers? What does the Dean, throughout all his What is all that can, in truth, be done? writinga, maintain ; and of this, what is Who laid the foundation for all that observed? What is the character of was afterwards writren on this subject; Lord Bolingbroke's style? What ap- and of him, what is observed ? He was pearance do all his political writings the first that did what? What is said carry? What qualities do they possess; of his Treatise on Rhetoric? Of sucand of them, what is to be regretted? ceeding Greek rhetoricians, what is obIn the fifth place, what will be admit- served? What two still remain, and ted to be a necessary means of improve- what is said of them? What general ment? What sort of composition is the remarks are made on Cicero's rhetorimost useful ? What advice is here cal writings? Of them, which are the given? Of him who has it for his aim most distinguished; and what is said of to write and speak correctly, what is them? Of all the ancient writers on observed ? By this remark, what is not the subject of oratory, who is the most meant? To what would this form him? useful, and the most instructive? Of But what is to be observed ? Of the Quintilian, and of his institutes, what becoming manner, what is observed; is observed 3 but what does it require to seize the

ANALYSIS

3. Industry and application necessary.

4. Attention to the best models recomPreliminary observations.

mended. Means of improvirg in eloquence.

A. The distinction between written and 1. Moral qualifications.

spoken language. A. Virtue favourable to the prosecu-l 5. Frequency of composing and speaking. tion of honourable studies.

A. Directions for the same. B. The most affecting sentiments flow 6. The study of critical writers requisite. from virtuous hearts.

A. Ancient original writers to be con2. A fund of knowledge requisite.

sulted.

LECTURE XXXV.

COMPARATIVE MERIT OF THE ANCIENTS AND THE

MODERNS.-HISTORICAL WRITING. I have now finished that part of the course which respected oratory, or public speaking, and which, as far as the subject allowed, I have endeavoured to form into some sort of system. It remains, that I enter on the consideration of the most distinguished kinds of composition, both in prose and verse, and point out the principles of criticism relating to them. This part of the work might easily be drawn out to a great length; but I am sensible that critical discussions, when they are pursued too far, become both trifling and tedious. I shall study, therefore, to avoid unnecessary prolixity; and hope, at the same time, to omit nothing that is very material under the several heads.

I shall follow the same method here which I have all along pursued, and without which, these lectures could not be entitled to any attention ; that is, I shall freely deliver my own opinion on every subject; regarding authority no farther than as it appears to me founded on good sense and reason. In former lectures, as I have often quoted several of the ancient classics for their beauties, so I have also, sometimes, pointed out their defects. Hereafter, I shall have occasion to do the same, when treating of their writings under more general heads. It may be fit that, before I proceed farther, I make some observations on the comparative merit of the ancients and the moderns ; in order that we may be able to ascertain, rationally, upon what foundation that deference rests, which has so generally been paid to the ancients. These observations are the more necessary, as this subject has given rise to no small controversy in the republic of letters; and they may, with propriety, be made now, as they will serve to throw light on some things I have afterwards to deliver, concerning different kinds of composition.

It is a remarkable phenomenon, and one which has often employed the speculations of curious men, that writers and artists, most distinguished for iheir parts and genius, have generally appeared in considerable numbers at a time. Some ages have been remarkably barren in them; while, at other periods, nature seems to have exerted herself with a more than ordinary effort, and to have poured them forth with a profuse fertility. Various reasons have been assigned for this. Some of the moral causes lie obvious ; such as fa

vourable circumstances of government and of manners; encouragement from great men; emulation excited among the men of genius. But as these have been thought inadequate to the whole effect, physical causes have been also assigned; and the Abbé du Bos, in his reflections on poetry and painting, has collected a great many observations on the influence which the air, the climate, and other such natural causes, may be supposed to have upon genius. But whatever the causes be, the fact is certain, that there have been certain periods or ages of the world much more distinguished than others, for the extraordinary productions of genius.

Learned men have marked out four of these happy ages. The first is the Grecian age, which commenced near the time of the Peloponnesian war, and extended till the time of Alexander the Great; within which period, we have Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Æschines, Lysias, Isocrates, Pindar, Æschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Menander, Anacreon, Theocritus, Lysippus, A pelles, Phidias, Praxiteles. The second, is the Roman age, included nearly within the days of Julius Cæsar and Augustus; affording us Catullus, Lucretius, Terence, Virgil, Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, Phædrus, Cæsar, Cicero, Livy, Sallust, Varro, and Vitruvius. The third age is, that of the restoration of learning, under the Popes Julius II. and Leo X.; when flourished Ariosto, Tasso, Sannazarius, Vida, Machiavel, Guicciardini, Davila, Erasmus, Paul Jovius, Michael Angelo, Raphael, Titian. The fourth comprehends the age of Louis the XIV. and Queen Anne, when flourished in France, Corneille, Racine, De Retz, Moliere, Boileau, Fontaine, Baptiste, Rousseau, Bossuet, Fenelon, Bourdaloue, Pascall, Malebranche, Massillon, Bruyere, Bayle, Fontenelle, Vertot; and in England, Dryden, Pope, Addison, Prior, Swift, Parnell, Arbuthnot, Congreve, Oiway, Young, Rowe, Atterbury, Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke, Tillotson, Temple, Bayle, Locke, Newton, Clarke.

When we speak comparatively of the ancients and the moderns, we generally mean by the ancients, such as lived in the two first of these periods, including also one or two who lived more early, as Homer in particular; and by the moderns, those who flourished in the two last of these ages, including also the eminent writers down to our own times. Any comparison between these two classes of writers, must be necessarily vague and loose, as they comprehend so many, and of such different kinds and degrees of genius. But the comparison is generally made to turn by those who are fond of making it, upon two or three of the most distinguished in each class. With much heat it was agitated in France, between Boileau and Mad. Dacier, on the one hand for the ancients, and Perrault and La Motte, on the other, for the moderns; and it was carried to extremes on both sides. To this day, among men of taste and letters, we find a leaning to one or other side. A few reflections may throw light upon the subject, and enable us to discern upon what grounds we are to rest our judgment in this controversy.

If any one, at this day, in the eighteenth century, takes upon him

« AnteriorContinuar »