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that Aexibility 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 become 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 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 spendid 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 conspicuous. He begins commonly with a regular exordium, and with much address prepossesses the hearers, and studjes to gain their affections. His method 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 bet. ter than Cicero. He rolls ihem 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 vebement.
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 100 great foudness for magnificence, he is sometimes deficient in strength. Though the services which he perform. ed 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 wero 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 oa 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 think Demosthenes superior to Cicero. I am persuaded no one can admire Cicero more than I do. He adorns whatever he attempts. He does honour to language. He disposes of words in a manner peculiar to himself. His style has great variety of character. Whenever he pleases, he is even concise and vehement ; for instance, against Cataline, against Verres, against An:hony. But ornament is too visible in his writings. His art is wonderful, but it is perceived. When the orator is providing for the safety of the republic, he forgets not himself, nor permits others to forget him. Demosthenes seems to escape from himself, and to see nothing but his country. He seeks not elegance of expression ; unsought he possessos it. He
is superior to admiration. He makes use of language, as a modest man does of dress, only to cover him. He thunders, he lightens. He is a torrent which carries every thing before it. We cannot criticise, because we are not ourselves. His subject enchains our attention, and makes us forget his 'language. We lose him from our sight. Philip alone occupies our minds. I am delighted with both these orators; but I confess that I am less affected by the infinite art and magnificent eloquence of Cicero, than by the rapid simplicity of Demosthenes."
The reign of eloquence among the Romans was very short. It expired with Cicero. Nor can we won- der at this ; for liberty was no more, and the government of Rome was delivered over to a succession of the most execrable tyrants that ever disgraced and scourged the human race.
In the decline of the Roman empire, the introduction of christianity gave rise to a new kind of eloquence in the apologies, sermons and pastoral writings of the fathers. But none of them afforded very just models of eloquence. Their language, as soon as we descend to the third or fourth century, becomes harsh ; and they are generally infected with the taste of that age, a love of swollen and strained thoughts, and of the play of words.
As nothing in the middle ages deserves attention, we pass now to the state of eloquence in modern times. Here it must be confessed, that in no European nation public speaking has been valued so highly, or cultivaied with so much care, as in Greece and Rome. The genius of the world appears in this respect to have undergone some alteration. The two countries, where we might expect to find most of the spirit of eloquence, are France and Great Britain : France, on account of the distinguished turn of its inhabitants toward all the liberal arts, and of the encouragement which more than a century past these arts have received from the public; Great Britain, on account of its free government and the liberal spirit and genius of its people. Yet in neither of these countries has oratory risen nearly to the degree of its ancient splendour.
Several reasons may be given, why modern eloquence has been so confined and humble in its efforts. In the first place, it seems that this change must in part be ascribed to that accurate turn of thinking which has been so much cultivated in modern times. Our pub. fic speakers are obliged to be more reserved than the ancients, in their attempts to elevate the imagination, and warm the passions ; and by the influence of pre'vailing taste, their own genius is chastened perhaps in 600 great a degree. It is probable, also, that we ascribe
our correctness and good sense, what is chiefly ow. ing to the phlegm and natural coldness of our disposi. tion. For the vivacity and sensibility of the Greeks and Romans, ecpecially of the former, seem to have been much superior to ours, and to have given them a higher relish for all the beauties of oratory.
Though the parliament of Great Britain is the noblest field which Europe at present affords to a public speaker, yet oloquence has ever been there a more feeble instrument than in the popular assemblies of Greece and Rome. Under some foreign reigns, the iron hand of arbitrary power checked its efforts ; and in later times ministerial influence has generally rendered it of small importance. At the bar eur disadvantage in comparison with the ancients is great. Among them ihe judges were commonly numerous ; the laws were few and simple; the decision of causes was left in a great measure to equity and the sense of mankind. Hence the field for judicial eloquence was ample. But at present the system of law is much more complicated. The knowledge of it is rendered so laborious as to be the study of a man's life. Speaking is therefore only a secondary accomplishment, for which he has lite tle leisure.
With respect to the pulpit, it has been a great disadvantage, that the practice of reading sermons, instead of repeating them, has prevailed so universally in Eng. Tand.
This indeed may have introduced accuracy
but eloquence has been much enfeebled. Another circumstance, too, has been prejudicial. The sectaries and fanatics, before the restoration, used a warm, zealous, and popular manner of preaching ; and their adherents afterward continued to distinguish themselves by similar ardour. Hatred of these sects drove the established church into the opposite extreme of a studied coolness of expression. Hence from the art of persuasion, which preaching ought ever to be, it has passed in England into mere reasoning and instruction,
ELOQUENCE OF POPULAR ASSEMBLIES.
The foundation of every species of eloquence is good sense and solid thought. It should be the first study of him, who means to address a popular assem. bly, to be previously master of the business on which he is to speak; to be well provided with matter and argument; and to rest' upon these the chief stress. This will give to his discourse an air of manliness and strength, which is a powerful instrument of persuasion. Ornament, if he have genius for it, will succeed of course ; at any rate it deserves only secondary regard.
To become a persuasive speaker in a popular assembly, it is a capital rule, that a man should always be persuaded of whatever he recommends to others. Never, if it can be avoided, should he espouse that side of an argument which he does not believe to be the right. All high eloquence must be the offspring of passion. This makes every man persuasive, and gives a force to his genius which it cannot otherwise possess.
Debate in popular assemblies seldom allows a speaker that previous preparation which the pulpit always, and the bar sometimes, admits. A general prejudice prevails, and not an unjust one, against set speeches in public meetings. At the opening of a debate they may sometimes be introduced with propriety ; but as the