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of difference which distinguish them, all men bear an interior resemblance to one another, and that their vices have a uniformity, because they always proceed either from weakness or interest. In a word, your descriptions will not be indeterminate and the more thoroughly you shall have examined what passes with-in your own breast, with more ability will you un- ́ fold the hearts of others.
Wit injures Eloquence.
To all those rules which art furnishes for conducting the plan of a discourse, we proceed to subjoin a general rule, from which orators, and especially Christian orators, ought never to swerve.
When such begin their career, the zeal for the sal vation of souls which animates them, doth not render them always unmindful of the glory which follows great success. A blind desire to shine and to please, is often at the expence of that substantial honour which might be obtained, were they to give themselves up to the pure emotions of piety, which so well agree with the sensibility necessary to eloquence.
It is, unquestionably, to be wished, that he who devotes himself to the arduous labour which preaching requires, should be wholly ambitious to render himself useful to the cause of religion. To. such, reputation can never be a sufficient recompence. But if motives so pure have not sufficient sway in your breast, calculate, at least, the advantages of self-love, and you may perceive how inseparably connected these are with the success of your ministry.
Is it on your own account that you preach? Is it for you that religion assembles her votaries in a tem
ple? You ought never to indulge so presumptuous a thought. However, I only consider you as an orator. Tell me then, what is this you call Eloquence? Is it the wretched trade of imitating that criminal, mentioned by a poet in his satires, who "balanced his crimes before his judges with antithesis?" Is it the puerile secret of forming jejune quibbles? of rounding periods? of tormenting one's self by tedious studies, in order to reduce sacred instruction into a vain amusement ? Is this, then, the idea which you have conceived of that divine art which disdains frivolous ornaments, which sways the most numerous assemblies, and which bestows on a single man the most personal and majestic of all sovereignties? Are you in quest of glory?-You fly from it. Wit alone is never sublime; and it is only by the vehemence of the passions that you can become eloquent. Reckon up all the illustrious orators. Will you find among them conceited, subtle, or epigrammatic writers? No; these immortal men confined their attempts to affect and persuade; and their having been always simple, is that which will always render them great. How is this? You wish to proceed in their footsteps, and you stoop to the degrading pretensions. of a rhetorician! And you appear in the form of a mendicant, soliciting commendations from those very men who ought to tremble at your feet! Recover from this ignominy. Be eloquent by zeal, instead of being a mere declaimer through vanity. And be assured, that the most certain method of preaching well for yourself, is to preach usefully to others.
Of the Production of Ideas.
It is this continual propagation of great ideas, by which they are mutually enlivened; it is this art of incessantly advancing in composition, that gives
strength to eloquence, rapidity to discourse, and the whole interest of dialogue to an uninterrupted succession of ideas, which, were they disjointed, would produce no effects, but languish and die.-The progression which imparts increasing strength to each period, is the natural representation of those transports of soul which should enliven throughout the compositions of the orator. Hence it follows, that an eloquent writer can only be formed by a fertility and vastness of thought.
Detached phrases, superfluous passages, witty comparisons, unprofitable definitions, the affectation of shining or surprising at every word, the extravagance of genius, these do not enrich, but rather impoverish a writer, as often as they interrupt his progress.
Let, then, the orator avoid, as most dangerous rocks, those ensnaring sallies, which would diminish the impetuosity of his ardour. Without pity on his productions, and without ever regretting the ap parent sacrifices which it will cost him, let him, as he proceeds, retrench this heap of flourishes, which stifles his eloquence, instead of embellishing it; and which hurries him on forcibly, rather than gracefully, towards his main design.
If the hearer find himself continually where he was, if he discover the enlargement, the return of the same ideas, or the playing upon words, he is no more transported with the admiration of a vehement orator; it is a florid declaimer, whom he hears without effect. He does not even hear him long. He also, like the orator, makes idle reflections on every word. He is continually losing sight of the thread of the discourse, amidst those digressions of the rhetorician, who is aiming to shine while his subject languishes. At length, tired with this redundancy of words, he feels his exhausted attention ready to expire with every breath.
Mistaken man of genius! wert thou acquainted with the true method of attaining eloquence, instead of.
disgusting thy hearer with thy insipid antithesis, his attention would not be at liberty to be diverted. He would partake of your emotions. He would become all that you mean to describe. He would imagine that he himself could discover the plain and striking arguments which you laid before him, and, in some measure, compose your discourse along with you. His satisfaction would be at its height, as would be your glory. And you would find, that it is the delight of him who hears, which always ensures the triumph of him who speaks.
"A good judge of the art of Oratory," says Cicero, "need not hear an Orator in order to judge of his merits-He passes on-He observes the judges conversing together-restless on their seats-frequently enquiring in the middle of a pleading, whe ther it be not time to close the trial, and break up the court. This is enough for him. He perceives at once that the cause is not pleaded by a man of eloquence, who can command every mind, as a musician can produce harmonious strains by touching the strings of his instrument.
"But if he perceive, as he passes on, the same judges attentive-their heads erect their looks engaged, and apparently struck with admiration of the speaker, as a bird is charmed with the sweet sounds of music; if, above all, he discover them (or 'the court,' or 'the audience') most passionately affected by pity, by hatred, or by any strong emotion of the heart; if, I say, as he passes on, he perceive these effects, though he hear not a word of the Oration, he immediately concludes, that a real Orator is in this assembly, and that the work of eloquence proceeds, or rather is already accomplished."
ORATORY is the art of speaking gracefully upon any subject, with a view to instruct, persuade and please. The scope of this art is, to support truth and virtue, to maintain the rights and liberties of mankind, to alleviate the miseries and distresses of life, or to defend the innocent, and accuse the guilty. The masters of rhetoric among the Greeks and Romans, have considered an oration as consisting of three or four parts, called the exordium, or mere beginning; the narration and confirmation, extending from thence to the peroration, or recapitulation and conclusion of what has been said. Now, as these parts of an oration differ widely in nature from each other, so they require a difference of style. A discourse may open variety of ways, bespeaking the favour and attention of the audience, as by an address to those who preside in chief; with an apology;-with setting forth the design of the point in debate ;-or with any other form arising from the speaker's consideration of his own situation, or the person of his hearers. But, from whatever occasion the exordium may take its rise, in general it should be short, plain, and modest.-Swelling introductions to plain subjects are ridiculous, and to great actions unnecessary, because they sufficiently show and magnify themselves;-not but, on some occasions, it may be proper to begin with spirit and fire. Examples of this kind are found in Cicero.The language too must be plain, simple, and concise in the narration, which is the part for stating the subject, and setting forth its consideration under one or more propositions; the fewer and clearer the better : Neither must the speaker rise much in the confirmation, where he is to prove the point under consideration, by proper illustrations, apt, short, and plain examples; by expressive similitudes, cogent argu