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ELOQUENCE OF THE BAR.
In the Eloquence of the Bar, we, it is evident, comprehend all speeches not immediately connected with the pulpit. It matters not, then, whether they strictly belong to that or some other place whether they be ancient or modern, provided the extracts be good, and the ancient do not usurp the place of the modern specimens of eloquence.
You all can see how this may be done-how a certain state of society-a selfish and usurping system may push aside, and bury in the shade, eloquence, however justly entitled to the true and legitimate appellation, or whatever internal or external marks of a celestial and terrestrial origin she may bear on her forehead; for she is the offspring of both-how youth, taught from their infancy to look scarcely anywhere but to Greece and Rome for eloquence, as if that were her birth-place and this were her tomb, view with suspicion, and often with contempt, every thing that is modern, and that carries not with it the aspect of barbarism. But it is easy to account for this absurdity in the system, for men, placed on the self-erected pinnacle of classical eminence, supporting, with all their might, a groundless but now a tottering system,-for the same men looking down with a nameless repulsion, with a contemptuous and malicious eye on him who dares lift his
puny and unhallowed hand to disturb the peaceable quiet of their gothic and lordly domains, with their beggarly mental establishments.
With all this we are to be understood as insinuating that, while ancient and modern specimens should occupy their proper places, they ought to be studied with that attention which they merit. We are afraid, however, that a nice attention to models may destine those to be second-rate whom nature has destined to be first-rate Orators. But those whom she has not formed for so high a character will always be in their proper spheres, carefully, very carefully, following such great men. Models of the right kind can never be decried. Of these, those of the Grecian Orator obviously form a prominent part. He is just the person whom we consider ourselves bound to follow. But we speak not at present of his style and manner, but of that view which we conceive he took of eloquence, without which he could never have arrived at that perhaps unequalled degree of excellence in Oratory which evidently characterized him. And though even he had rather imposing models before him, which we cannot suppose he at all undervalued, yet he chose to sit down and study Nature, and compare her simple, modest, but fearless dictates, with those of the Orators and Philosophers that preceded and surrounded him. It is this part of his character, then, which has been too much neglected. And it is this part of his character which we would hold up for an example to our youth, for their daily and continual study. It was undoubtedly this which had the greatest share in raising him above the crowd of orators of ancient and it may be of modern times. It is therefore almost by the study of this alone that we can ever think of harbouring the presump
tion to rival this great man. Much is in the gift of nature. But though she may not have been very lavish of her charms and abilities, nevertheless it is astonishing how much she has put into all our powers. Who can tell how much depends on cultivating those with which she has favoured even the most despicable and narrow-minded of the human race? Who can scan the utmost limit of that perfection at which the most frugal distribution of the mental powers is permitted ultimately to arrive?
But, for conclusion, we remark, that some of the extracts which we introduce under this head unfortunately labour under one obvious irremediable disadvantage. Our readers observe that we now speak of parliamentary extracts. It must also be noticed, that from the very nature of the means by which even the substance of the speeches in that quarter is preserved, they must be variously reported. What a pity that that brilliant speech of Sheridan's is in this mutilated state! Yet its existing scattered fragments bespeak a colossal mind.
ELOQUENCE OF THE BAR.
Demosthenes' Oration for the Crown.
SUCH was the commencement and first restoration of our affairs with respect to Thebes; the two countries having been previously brought by these miscreants into a state of animosity and distrust. This decree caused the danger which then environed the city to pass away like a cloud. Now, the duty of a good citizen was to declare publicly at the time, if he had any better measures to propose, and not now to condemn them. For an honest adviser, and a false accuser, resembling each other in no one thing, differ most of all in this-that the one declares his opinion before the events happen, and renders himself responsible to those who adopt his counsel,-to fortune, -to events,—to any person who may call him to account; but the other, keeping silence when he ought to speak out, makes a reverse of fortune, if any should happen, the subject of unjust accusations. That, then, was the season, as I have already said, for a man to come forward, who had the good of his country at heart, and honest advice. But I go farther, and to so extravagant a length, that if, at this moment any one can point out any thing better to have been done, or if, upon the whole, any thing else was possible, except what I adopted, I will admit that I did wrong. For if any man has now discovered what would have been of advantage had it been then resorted to, I avow that it ought not to have escaped me. But if there neither is, nor was,-and no man, even at this hour, can suggest any such
thing, what ought a statesman to have done? Ought he not to have chosen whatever was the best, under existing circumstances, and out of the means within his reach? This is the very thing I did, Eschines, when the public herald demanded-" who wishes to address the people?"-not-"Who wishes to find fault with past events?" Whilst you, at that crisis, sat silently in the assembly, I came forward and spoke. But if you could not then,-at least point out now, let us hear what resource, which I ought to have discovered, or what opportunity, which I ought to have improved, was then omitted by me on behalf of the country? What alliance? What single measure, that I ought to have, or have actually persuaded the people to pursue, in preference to what was actually adopted?
But, moreover, the past is always dismissed by all men from deliberation, and no one ever proposes any counsel respecting that. The future, or the present, alone requires the skill of a statesman. At that time, then, undoubtedly some dangers appeared to be approaching, and others actually were at hand; with regard to both which, I again invite you to examine the character of my public conduct, and do not unjustly upbraid me with the event. For the termination of all things must ever be at the disposal of Providence, and it is only from the measures he proposes, that any judgment can be formed of the intelligence of a statesman. Never let it be attributed to me then as an offence, if it did so fall out, that Philip won the battle; for the issue of that was in the hand of God and not of me. But show, that I did not select such measures as, according, to human foresight and what was practicable, were the best, or that I did not, faithfully and honestly, and laboriously even beyond my strength-execute them; or that the course proposed by me was not honourable, and worthy of the country, and necessary,-show me this and then accuse me. But if that tempest or thunder-clap which came upon us, was too powerful, not only for us, but for all the rest of the Greeks to resist, what was to be done? Just as if the master