Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Cicero's Brutus or History of Famous Orators; also His Orator, or Accomplished Speaker. by Marcus Tullius Cicero

Part 3 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Speakers, was truly Attic: for who can deny it? But let it also be
remembered that Lysias claims the merit of Atticism, not so much for his
simplicity and want of ornament, as because he has nothing which is either
faulty or impertinent. But to speak floridly, nervously, and copiously,
this also is true Atticism:--otherwise, neither Aeschines nor even
Demosthenes himself were Attic Speakers.

There are others who affect to be called _Thucydideans_,--a strange and
novel race of Triflers! For those who attach themselves to Lysias, have a
real Pleader for their pattern;--not indeed a stately, and striking
Pleader, but yet a dextrous and very elegant one, who might appear in the
Forum with reputation.

Thucydides, on the contrary, is a mere Historian, who ('tis true)
describes wars, and battles with great dignity and precision; but he can
supply us with nothing which is proper for the Forum. For his very
speeches have so many obscure and intricate periods, that they are
scarcely intelligible; which in a public discourse is the greatest fault
of which an Orator can be guilty. But who, when the use of corn has been
discovered, would be so mad as to feed upon acorns? Or could the Athenians
improve their diet, and bodily food, and be incapable of cultivating their
language? Or, lastly, which of the Greek Orators has copied the style of
Thucydides? [Footnote: Demosthenes indeed took the pains to transcribe the
History of Thucydides several times. But he did this, no so much to copy
the _form_ as the energy of his language.] "True," they reply, "but
Thucydides was universally admired." And so, indeed, he was; but only as a
sensible, an exact, and a grave Historian;--not for his address in public
debates, but for his excellence in describing wars and battles.
Accordingly, he was never mentioned as an Orator; nor would his name have
been known to posterity, if he had not composed his History,
notwithstanding the dignity of his birth, and the honourable share he held
in the Government. But none of these Pretenders have copied his energy;
and yet when they have uttered a few mutilated and broken periods (which
they might easily have done without a master to imitate) we must rever
them, truly, as so many genuine _Thucydideses_. I have likewise met with a
few who were professed imitators of Xenophon; whose language, indeed, is
sweeter than honey, but totally unqualified to withstand the clamours of
the Forum.

Let us return then to the Orator we are seeking after, and furnish him
with those powers of Elocution, which Antonius could not discover in any
one: an arduous task, my Brutus, and full of difficulty:--yet nothing, I
believe, is impossible to him whose breast is fired with the generous
flame of friendship! But I affectionately admire (and have always admired)
your genius, your inclinations, and your manners. Nay, I am daily more
inflamed and ravished, not only with a desire (which, I assure you, is a
violent one) to renew our friendly intercourses, our social repasts, and
your improving conversation, but by the wonderful fame of your incredible
virtues, which, though different in kind, are readily united by your
superior wisdom and good-sense. For what is so remote from severity of
manners as gentleness and affability? and yet who more venerable than
yourself, or who more agreeable? What can be more difficult than to decide
a number of suits, so as to be equally esteemed and beloved by the parties
on both sides? You, however, possess the admirable talent of sending away
perfectly easy and contented even those against whom your are forced to
give judgment: thus bringing it to bear that, while you do nothing from a
partial favour to any man, whatever you do is favourably received. Hence
it happens, that the only country upon earth, which is not involved in the
present confusion, is the province of Gaul; where you are now enjoying
yourself in a happy tranquillity, while you are universally respected at
home, and live in the hearts of the flower and strength of your fellow-
citizens. It is equally amazing, though you are always engaged in the most
important offices of Government, that your studies are never intermitted;
and that you are constantly either composing something of your own, or
finding employment for me! Accordingly I began this Essay, at your
request, as soon as I had finished my _Cato_; which last also I should
never have attempted (especially at a time when the enemies of virtue were
so numerous) if I had not considered it as a crime to disobey my friend,
when he only urged me to revive the memory of a man whom I always loved
and honoured in his life-time. But I have now ventured upon a task which
you have frequently pressed upon me, and I as often refused: for, if
possible, I would share the fault between us, that if I should prove
unequal to the subject, you may have the blame of loading me with a burden
which is beyond my strength, and I the censure of presuming to undertake
it:--though after all, the single merit of gratifying such a friend as
Brutus, will sufficiently atone for any defects I may fall into.

But in every accomplishment which may become the object of pursuit, it is
excessively difficult to delineate the form (or, as the Greeks call it,
the _character_ [Footnote: [Greek: charachtaer].]) of what is _best_;
because some suppose it to consist in one thing, and some in another.
Thus, for instance, "I am for _Ennius_," says one; "because he confines
himself to the style of conversation:"--"and I," says another, "give the
preference to _Pacuvius_, because his verses are embellished and well-
wrought; whereas Ennius is rather too "negligent." In the same manner we
may suppose a third to be an admirer of Attius; for, as among the Greeks,
so it happens with us, "_different men have different opinions_;"--nor is
it easy to determine which is best. Thus also in painting, some are
pleased with a rough, a wild, and a dark and cloudy style; while others
prefer that which is clear, and lively, and well covered with light. How
then shall we strike out a general _rule_ or _model_, when there are
several manners, and each of them has a certain perfection of its own? But
this difficulty has not deterred me from the undertaking; nor have I
altered my opinion that in all things there is a _something_ which
comprehends the highest excellence of the kind, and which, though not
generally discernible, is sufficiently conspicuous to him, who is skilled
in the subject.

"But as there are several kinds of Eloquence which differ considerably
from each other, and therefore cannot be reduced to one common form;--for
this reason, as to mere laudatory Orations, Essays, Histories, and such
suasory performances as the Panegyric of Isocrates, and the speeches of
many others who were called _Sophists_;--and, in short, as to every thing
which is unconnected with the Forum, and the whole of that species of
discourse which the Greeks call the _demonstrative_ [Footnote: The
_demonstrative_ species of Eloquence is that which was solely employed
either in _praising_ or _dispraising_. Besides this, there are two
others, viz. the _deliberative_, and the _judicial_; the former was
employed in political debates, where it's whole business was either
to _persuade_ or _dissuade_; and the latter, in judicial suits and
controversies, where the Speaker was either to _accuse_ or _defend_.
But, on many occasions, they were all three intermingled in the same
discourse.];--the form, or leading character of these I shall pass over;
though I am far from considering it as a mere trifle, or a subject of
no consequence; on the contrary, we may regard it as the nurse and
tutoress of the Orator we are now delineating. For _here_, a fluency
of expression is confessedly nourished and cultivated; and the easy
construction, and harmonious cadence of our language is more openly
attended to. _Here_, likewise, we both allow and recommend a studious
elegance of diction, and a continued flow of melodious and well-turned
periods;--and _here_, we may labour visibly, and without concealing
our art, to contrast word to word, and to compare similar, and oppose
contrary circumstances, and make several sentences (or parts of a
sentence) conclude alike, and terminate with the same cadence;
--ornaments, which in real pleadings, are to be used more sparingly, and
with less appearance of art. Isocrates, therefore, confesses in his
_Panathenaicus_, that these were beauties which he industriously pursued;
for he composed it not for victory in a suit at law (where such a
confession must have greatly injured his cause) but merely to gratify the
ear.

"It is recorded that the first persons who practised this species of
composition [Footnote: The _composition_ here mentioned consisted of three
parts, The _first_ regarded the structure; that is, the _connection_ of
our words, and required that the last syllable of every preceding, and the
first of every succeeding word should be so aptly united as to produce an
agreeable sound; which was effected by avoiding a collision of vowels or
of inamicable consonants. It likewise required that those words should be
constantly made choice of, whose separate sounds were most harmonious and
most agreeable to the sense. The _second_ part consisted in the use of
particular forms of expression, such as contrasts and antithesises, which
have an appearance of order and regularity in their very texture. The
_third_ and last regarded that species of harmony which results not so
much from the sound, as from the time and quantity of the several
syllables in a sentence. This was called _number_, and sometimes _rhyme_;
and was in fact a kind of _prosaic metre_, which was carefully attended to
by the ancients in every part of a sentence, but more particularly at the
beginning and end of it. In this part they usually included the _period_,
or the rules for determining the length of their sentences. I thought it
necessary to give this short account of their composition, because our
author very frequently alludes to it, before he proceeds to explain it at
large.] were _Thrasymachus_ the Chalcedonian, and _Gorgias_ the Leontine;
and that these were followed by _Theodorus_ the Byzantine, and a number of
others, whom Socrates, in the Phaedrus of Plato, calls [Greek:
logodaidalos] _Speech-wrights_; many of whole discourses are sufficiently
neat and entertaining; but, being the first attempts of the kind, were too
minute and puerile, and had too poetical an air, and too much colouring.
On this account, the merit of _Herodotus_, and _Thucydides_ is the more
conspicuous: for though they lived at the time we are speaking of, they
carefully avoided those studied decorations, or rather futilities. The
former rolls along like a deep, still river without any rocks or shoals to
interrupt it's course; and the other describes wars and battles, as if he
was founding a charge on the trumpet; so that history (to use the words
of _Theophrastus_) caught the first alarm from these, and began to express
herself with greater dignity and spirit.

"After these came _Socrates_, whom I have always recommended as the most
accomplished writer we have in the way I am speaking of; though sometimes,
my Brutus, you have objected to it with a great deal of pleasantry and
erudition. But when you are better informed for what it is I recommend
him, you will then think of him perhaps as favourably as I do.
Thrasymachus and Gorgias (who are said to have been the first who
cultivated the art of prosaic harmony) appeared to him to be too minutely
exact; and Thucydides, he thought, was as much too loose and rugged, and
not sufficiently smooth, and full-mouthed; and from hence he took the hint
to give a scope to his sentences by a more copious and unconfined flow of
language, and to fill up their breaks and intervals with the softer and
more agreeable numbers. By teaching this to the most celebrated Speakers,
and Composers of the age, his house came at last to be honoured as the
_School of Eloquence_. Wherefore as I bore the censure of others with
indifference, when I had the good fortune to be applauded by Cato; thus
Isocrates, with the approbation of Plato, may slight the judgment of
inferior critics. For in the last page of the Phaedrus, we find _Socrates_
thus expressing himself;--'Now, indeed, my dear Phaedrus,' said he,
'Isocrates is but a youth: but I will discover to you what I think of
him.'--'And what is that?' replied the other.--'He appears to me,' said
the Philosopher, 'to have too elevated a genius to be placed on a level
with the arid speeches of Lysias. Besides, he has a stronger turn for
virtue; so that I shall not wonder, as he advances in years, if in the
species of Eloquence to which he now applies himself, he should exceed
all, who have hitherto pursued it, like so many infants. Or, if this
should not content him, I shall not be astonished to behold him with a
godlike ardour pursuing higher and more important studies; for I plainly
see that he has a natural bent to Philosophy!'"

Thus Socrates presaged of him when he was but a youth. But Plato recorded
this eulogium when he was older; and he recorded it, though he was one of
his equals and cotemporaries, and a professed enemy to the whole tribe of
Rhetoricians! _Him_ he admires, and _him_ alone! So that such who despise
Isocrates, must suffer me to err with Socrates and Plato.

The manner of speaking, then, which is observed in the _demonstrative_ or
ornamental species of Eloquence, and which I have before remarked, was
peculiar to the Sophists, is sweet, harmonious, and flowing, full of
pointed sentiments, and arrayed in all the brilliance of language. But it
is much fitter for the parade than the field; and being, therefore,
consigned to the Palaestra, and the schools, has been long banished from
the Forum. As Eloquence, however, after she had been fed and nourished
with this, acquires a fresher complexion, and a firmer constitution; it
would not be amiss, I thought, to trace our Orator from his very _cradle_.

But these things are only for shew and amusement: whereas it is our
business to take the field in earnest, and prepare for action. As there
are three particulars, then, to be attended to by an Orator,--viz. _what_
he is to say, in _what order_, and _how_; we shall consider what is most
excellent in each; but after a different manner from what is followed in
delivering a system of the Art. For we are not to furnish a set of
precepts (this not being the province we have undertaken) but to exhibit a
portrait of Eloquence in her full perfection: neither is it our business
to explain the methods by which we may acquire it, but only to shew what
opinion we ought to form of it.

The two first articles are to be lightly touched over; for they have not
so much a remarkable as a necessary share in forming the character of a
compleat Orator, and are likewise common to _his_ with many other
professions;--and though, to invent, and judge with accuracy, what is
proper to be said, are important accomplishments, and the same as the soul
is to the body, yet they rather belong to _prudence_ than to Eloquence. In
what cause, however, can _prudence_ be idle? Our Orator, therefore, who is
to be all perfection, should be thoroughly acquainted with the sources of
argument and proof. For as every thing which can become the subject of
debate, must rest upon one or another of these particulars, viz.--whether
a fact has been really committed, or what name it ought to bear in law, or
whether it is agreeable or contrary to justice; and as the reality of a
fact must be determined by force of evidence, the true name of it by it's
definition, and the quality of it by the received notions of right and
wrong;--an Orator (not an ordinary one, but the finished Speaker we are
describing) will always turn off the controversy, as much as possible,
from particular persons and times, (for we may argue more at liberty
concerning general topics than about circumstances) in such a manner that
what is proved to be true _universally_, may necessarily appear to be so
in all _subordinate_ cases. The point in debate being thus abstracted from
particular persons and times, and brought to rest upon general principles,
is called a _thesis_. In _this_ the famous Aristotle carefully practised
his scholars;--not to argue with the formal precision of Philosophers, but
to canvass a point handsomely and readily on both sides, and with all the
copiousness so much admired in the Rhetoricians: and for this purpose he
delivered a set of _common places_ (for so he calls them) which were to
serve as so many marks or characters for the discovery of arguments, and
from which a discourse might be aptly framed on either side of a question.

Our Orator then, (for I am not speaking of a mere school-declaimer, or a
noisy ranter in the Forum, but of a well-accomplished and a finished
Speaker)--our Orator, as there is such a copious variety of common-places,
will examine them all, and employ those which suit his purpose in as
general and indefinite a manner as his cause will permit, and carefully
trace and investigate them to their inmost sources. But he will use the
plenty before him with discretion, and weighing every thing with the
utmost accuracy, select what is best: for the stress of an argument does
not always, and in every cause, depend upon similar topics. He will,
therefore, exercise his judgment; and not only discover what _may_ be
said, but thoroughly examine the _force_ of it. For nothing is more
fertile than the powers of genius, and especially those which have been
blessed with the cultivation of science. But as a rich and fruitful soil
not only produces corn in abundance, but also weeds to choak and smother
it; so from the common-places we are speaking of, many arguments will
arise, which are either trivial, or foreign to our purpose, or entirely
useless. An Orator, therefore, should carefully examine each, that he may
be able to select with propriety. Otherwise, how can he enlarge upon those
which are most pertinent, and dwell upon such as more particularly affect
his cause? Or how can he soften a harsh circumstance, or conceal, and (if
possible) entirely suppress what would be deemed unanswerable, or steal
off the attention of the hearer to a different topic? Or how alledge
another argument in reply, which shall be still more plausible than that
of his antagonist?

But after he has thus _invented_ what is proper to be said, with what
accuracy must he _methodize_ it? For this is the second of the three
articles above-mentioned. Accordingly, he will give the portal of his
Harangue a graceful appearance, and make the entrance to his cause as neat
and splendid as the importance of it will permit. When he has thus made
himself master of the hearer's good wishes at the first onset, he will
endeavour to invalidate what makes against him; and having, by this means,
cleared his way, his strongest arguments will appear some of them in the
front, and others at the close of his discourse; and as to those of more
trifling consequence, he will occasionally introduce [Footnote: In the
Original it is _inculcabit_, he will _tread them in_, (like the sand or
loose dust in a new pavement) to support and strengthen the whole.] them
here and there, where he judges them likely to be most serviceable. Thus,
then, we have given a cursory view of what he ought to be, in the two
first departments of Oratory. But, as we before observed, these, though
very important in their consequences, require less art and application.

After he has thus invented what is proper to be said, and in what order,
the greatest difficulty is still behind;--namely to consider _how_ he is
to say it, and _in what manner_. For the observation of our favourite
_Carneades_ is well-known,--"That _Clitomachus_ had a perpetual sameness
of sentiment, and Charmidas a tiresome uniformity of expression." But if
it is a circumstance of so much moment in Philosophy, _in what manner_ we
express ourselves, where the matter, and not the language, is principally
regarded; what must we think of public debates, which are wholly ruled and
swayed by the powers of Elocution? Accordingly, my Brutus, I am sensible
from your letters, that you mean to inquire what are my notions of a
finished Speaker, not so much with respect to his Invention and
Disposition, as to his talents of _Elocution_:--a severe task! and the
most difficult you could have fixed upon! For as language is ever soft and
yielding, and so amazingly pliable that you may bend and form it at your
pleasure; so different natures and dispositions have given rise to
different kinds of Elocution. Some, for instance, who place the chief
merit of it in it's rapidity, are mightily pleased with a torrent of
words, and a volubility of expression. Others again are better pleased
with regular, and measured intervals, and frequent stops, and pauses. What
can be more opposite? and yet both have their proper excellence. Some also
confine their attention to the smoothness and equability of their periods,
and aim at a style which is perfectly neat and clear: while others affect
a harshness, and severity of diction, and to give a gloomy cast to their
language:--and as we have already observed that some endeavour to be
nervous and majestic, others neat and simple, and some to be smooth and
florid, it necessarily follows that there must be as many different kinds
of Orators, as there are of Eloquence. But as I have already enlarged the
talk you have imposed upon me;--(for though your enquiries related only to
Elocution, I have ventured a few hints on the arts of Invention and
Disposition;)--I shall now treat not only of _Elocution_, but of _action_.
By this means, every part of Oratory will be attended to: for as to
_memory_, which is common to this with many other arts, it is entirely out
of the question.

The Art of Speaking then, so far as it regards only the _manner_ in which
our thoughts should be expressed, consists in _action_ and _Elocution_;
for action is the Eloquence of the body, and implies the proper management
of our _voice_ and _gesture_. As to the inflexions of the voice, they are
as numerous as the various passions it is capable of exciting. The
finished Orator, therefore, who is the subject of this Essay, in whatever
manner he would appear to be affected himself, and touch the heart of his
hearer, will employ a suitable and corresponding tone of voice:--a topic
which I could willingly enlarge upon, if delivering precepts was any part
of my present design, or of your request. I should likewise have treated
concerning _gesture_, of which the management of the countenance is a
material part: for it is scarcely credible of what great importance it is
to an Orator to recommend himself by these external accomplishments. For
even those who were far from being masters of good language, have many
times, by the sole dignity of their action, reaped the fruits of
Eloquence; while others who had the finest powers of Elocution, have too
often, by the mere awkwardness of their delivery, led people to imagine
that they were scarcely able to express themselves:--so that Demosthenes,
with sufficient reason, assigned the first place, and likewise the second
and third to _pronunciation_. For if Eloquence without this is nothing,
but this, even without Eloquence, has such a wonderful efficacy, it must
be allowed to bear the principal sway in the practice of Speaking.

If an Orator, then, who is ambitious to win the palm of Eloquence, has any
thing to deliver which is warm and cutting, let his voice be strong and
quick;--if what is calm and gentle, let it be mild and easy;--if what is
grave and sedate, let it be cool and settled;--and if what is mournful and
affecting, let his accents be plaintive and flexible. For the voice may be
raised or depressed, and extended or contracted to an astonishing degree;
thus in Music (for instance) it's three tones, the _mean_, the _acute_,
and the _grave_, may be so managed by art, as to produce a pleasing and an
infinite variety of sounds. Nay, even in Speaking, there may be a
concealed kind of music:--not like the whining epilogue of a Phrygian or a
Carian declaimer, but such as was intended by _Aeschines_, and
_Demosthenes_, when the one upbraids and reproaches the other with the
artificial modulations of his voice. _Demosthenes_, however, says most
upon this head, and often speaks of his accuser as having a sweet and
clear pronunciation. There is another circumstance, which may farther
enforce our attention to the agreeable management of the voice; for Nature
herself, as if she meant to harmonize the speech of man, has placed an
accent on every word, and one accent only, which never lies farther than
the third syllable from the last. Why, therefore, should we hesitate to
follow her example, and to do our best to gratify the ear? A good voice,
indeed, though a desirable accomplishment, is not in our power to
acquire:--but to exercise, and improve it, is certainly in the power of
every person.

The Orator, then, who means to be the prince of his profession, will
change and vary his voice with the most delicate propriety; and by
sometimes raising, and sometimes depressing it, pursue it gradually
through all it's different tones, and modulations. He will likewise
regulate his _gesture_, so as to avoid even a single motion which is
either superfluous or impertinent. His posture will be erect and manly:--
he will move from his ground but seldom, and not even then too
precipitately; and his advances will be few and moderate. He will practise
no languishing, no effeminate airs of the head, no finical playing of the
fingers, no measured movement of the joints. The chief part of his gesture
will consist in the firm and graceful sway of his body, and in extending
his arm when his arguments are pressing, and drawing it again when his
vehemence abates. But as to the _countenance_, which next to the voice has
the greatest efficacy, what dignity and gracefulness is it not capable of
supporting! and when you have been careful that it may neither be
unmeaning, nor ostentatious, there is still much to be left to the
expression of the _eyes_. For if the countenance is the _image_ of the
mind, the eyes are it's _interpreters_, whose degree of pleasantry or
sadness must be proportioned to the importance of our subject.

But we are to exhibit the portrait of a finished Orator, whose chief
excellence must be supposed, from his very name, to consist in his
_Elocution_; while his other qualifications (though equally complete) are
less conspicuous. For a mere inventor, a mere digester, or a mere actor,
are titles never made use of to comprize the whole character; but an
Orator derives his name, both in Greek and Latin, from the single talent
of Elocution. As to his other qualifications, every man of sense may claim
a share of them: but the full powers of language are exerted by himself
alone. Some of the philosophers, indeed, have expressed themselves in a
very handsome manner: for _Theophrastus_ derived his name from the
divinity of his style; _Aristotle_ rivalled the glory of _Isocrates_; and
the Muses themselves are said to have spoken from the lips of _Xenophon_;
and, to say no more, the great _Plato_ is acknowledged in majesty and
sweetness to have far exceeded all who ever wrote or spoke. But their
language has neither the nerves nor the sting which is required in the
Orator's, when he harangues the crowded Forum. They speak only to the
learned, whose passions they rather choose to compose than disturb; and
they discourse about matters of calm and untumultuous speculation, merely
as teachers, and not like eager antagonists: though even _here_, when they
endeavour to amuse and delight us, they are thought by some to exceed the
limits of their province. It will be easy, therefore, to distinguish this
species of Elocution from the Eloquence we are attempting to delineate.
For the language of philosophy is gentle and composed, and entirely
calculated for the shady walks of the Academy;--not armed with those
forcible sentiments, and rapid turns of expression, which are suited to
move the populace, nor measured by exact numbers and regular periods, but
easy, free, and unconfined. It has nothing resentful belonging to it,
nothing invidious, nothing fierce and flaming, nothing exaggerated,
nothing marvellous, nothing artful and designing; but resembles a chaste,
a bashful, and an unpolluted virgin. We may, therefore, consider it as a
kind of polite conversation, rather than a species of Oratory.

As to the _Sophists_, whom I have already mentioned, the resemblance ought
to be more accurately distinguished: for they industriously pursue the
same flowers which are used by an Orator in the Forum. But they differ in
this,--that, as their principal aim is not to disturb the passions, but
rather to allay them, and not so much to persuade as to please,--they
attempt the latter more openly, and more frequently than we do. They seek
for agreeable sentiments, rather than probable ones; they use more
frequent digressions, intermingle tales and fables, employ more shewy
metaphors, and work them into their discourses with as much fancy and
variety as a painter does his colours; and they abound in contrasts and
antitheses, and in similar and corresponding cadences.

Nearly allied to these is _History_, which conducts her narratives with
elegance and ease, and now and then sketches out a country, or a battle.
She likewise diversifies her story with short speeches, and florid
harangues: but in these, only neatness and fluency is to be expected, and
not the vehemence and poignant severity of an Orator [Footnote: In the
Original it is,--_sed in his tracta quaedam et fluens expetitur, nan haec
contorta, et acris Oratorio_; upon which Dr. Ward has made the following
remark:--"Sentences, with respect to their form or composition, are
distinguished into two sorts, called by Cicero _tracta_, strait or direct,
and _contorta_, bent or winding. By the former are meant such, whose
members follow each other in a direct order, without any inflexion; and by
the latter, those which strictly speaking are called periods."].

There is much the same difference between Eloquence and _Poetry_; for the
Poets likewise have started the question, What it is which distinguishes
them from the Orators? It was formerly supposed to be their _number_ and
_metre_: but numbers are now as familiar to the Orator, as to the Poet;
for whatever falls under the regulation of the ear, though it bears no
resemblance to verse (which in Oratory would be a capital fault) is called
_number_, and by the Greeks _rhyme_. [Footnote: [Greek: Ruthmos]] In the
opinion of some, therefore, the style of _Plato_ and _Democritus_, on
account of it's majestic flow, and the splendor of it's ornaments, though
it is far from being verse, has a nearer resemblance to poetry than the
style of the Comedians, who, excepting their metre, have nothing different
from the style of conversation. Metre, however, is far from being the
principal merit of the Poets; though it is certainly no small
recommendation, that, while they pursue all the beauties of Eloquence, the
harmony of their numbers is far more regular and exact. But, though the
language of Poetry is equally grand and ornamental with that of an Orator,
she undoubtedly takes greater liberties both in making and compounding
word; and frequently administers to the pleasure of her hearers, more by
the pomp and lustre of her expressions, than by the weight and dignity of
her sentiments. Though judgment, therefore, and a proper choice of words,
is alike common to both, yet their difference in other respects is
sufficiently discernible: but if it affords any matter of doubt (as to
some, perhaps, it may) the discussion of it is no way necessary to our
present purpose.

We are, therefore, to delineate the Orator who differs equally from the
Eloquence of the Philosopher, the Sophist, the Historian, and the Poet.
He, then, is truly eloquent, (for after _him_ we must search, by the
direction of Antonius) who in the Forum, and in public debates, can so
speak, as to _prove_, _delight_, and _force the passions_. To _prove_, is
a matter of necessity:--to _delight_, is indispensably requisite to engage
the attention:--and to _force the passions_, is the surest means of
victory; for this contributes more effectually than both the others to get
a cause decided to our wishes. But as the duties of an Orator, so the
kinds of Elocution are three. The neat and accurate is used in _proving;_
the moderately florid in _delighting_ apd the vehement and impetuous in
_forcing_ _the passions,_ in which alone all the power of Eloquence
consists. Great, therefore, must be the judgment, and wonderful the
talents of the man, who can properly conduct, and, as it were, temper this
threefold variety: for he will at once determine what is suitable to every
case; and be always able to express himself as the nature of his subject
may require.

Discretion, therefore, is the basis of Eloquence, as well as of every
other accomplishment. For, as in the conduct of life, so in the practice
of Speaking, nothing is more difficult than to maintain a propriety of
character. This is called by the Greeks [Greek: to prepon], _the
becoming,_ but we shall call it _decorum;_--a subject which has been
excellently and very copiously canvassed, and richly merits our attention.
An unacquaintance with this has been the source of innumerable errors, not
only in the business of life, but in Poetry and Eloquence. An Orator,
therefore, should examine what is becoming, as well in the turn of his
language, as in that of his sentiments. For not every condition, not every
rank, not every character, nor every age, or place, or time, nor every
hearer is to be treated with the same invariable train either of sentiment
or expression:--but we should always consider in every part of a public
Oration, as well as of life, what will be most becoming,--a circumstance
which naturally depends on the nature of the subject, and the respective
characters of the Speaker and Hearer. Philosophers, therefore, have
carefully discussed this extensive and important topic in the doctrine of
Ethics, (though not, indeed, when they treat of right and wrong, because
those are invariably the fame:)--nor is it less attended to by the Critics
in their poetical Essays, or by men of Eloquence in every species and
every part of their public debates. For what would be more out of
character, than to use a lofty style, and ransack every topic of argument,
when we are speaking only of a petty trespass in some inferior court? Or,
on the other hand, to descend to any puerile subtilties, and speak with
the indifference and simplicity of a frivolous narrative, when we are
lashing treason and rebellion?

_Here_, the indecorum would arise from the very nature and quality of the
subject: but others are equally guilty of it, by not adapting their
discourse either to their own characters, or to that of their hearers,
and, in some cafes, to that of their antagonists; and they extend the
fault not only to their sentiments, but to the turn of their expression.
It is true, indeed, that the force of language is a mere nothing, when it
is not supported by a proper solidity of sentiment: but it is also equally
true that the same thing will be either approved or rejected, according as
it is this or that way expressed. In all cases, therefore, we cannot be
too careful in examining the _how far_? for though every thing has it's
proper mean, yet an _excess_ is always more offensive and disgusting than
a proportionable _defect_. _Apelles_, therefore, justly censures some of
his cotemporary artists, because they never knew when they had performed
enough.

This, my Brutus, as your long acquaintance with it must necessarily inform
you, is a copious subject, and would require an extensive volume to
discuss. But it is sufficient to our present purpose to observe, that in
all our words and actions, as well the smallest as the greatest, there is
a something which will appear either becoming or unbecoming, and that
almost every one is sensible of it's confluence. But what is becoming, and
what _ought to be_, are very different considerations, and belong to a
different topic:--for the _ought to be_ points out the perfection of duty,
which should be attended to upon all occasions, and by all persons: but
the _becoming_ denotes that which is merely _proper_, and suited to time
and character, which is of great importance not only in our actions and
language, but in our very looks, our gesture, and our walk; and that which
is contrary to it will always be _unbecoming_, and disagreeable. If the
Poet, therefore, carefully guards against any impropriety of the kind, and
is always condemned as guilty of a fault, when he puts the language of a
worthy man into the mouth of a ruffian, or that of a wife man into the
mouth of a fool:--if, moreover, the artist who painted the sacrifice of
_Iphigenia_, [Footnote: Agamemnon, one of the Grecian chiefs, having by
accident slain a deer belonging to Diana, the Goddess was so enraged at
this profanation of her honours, that she kept him wind-bound at Aulis
with the whole fleet. Under this heavy disaster, having recourse to the
Oracle, (their usual refuge in such cases) they were informed that the
only atonement which the angry Goddess would accept, was the sacrifice of
one of the offender's children. Ulysses having, by a stratagem, withdrawn
_Iphigenia_ from her mother for that purpose, the unhappy Virgin was
brought to the altar. But, as the story goes, the Goddess relenting at her
hard fate, substituted a deer in her stead, and conveyed her away to serve
her as a Priestess. It must be farther remarked that _Menelaus_ was the
Virgin's uncle, and Calchas the Priest who was to officiate at this horrid
sacrifice.] could see that _Chalcas_ should appear greatly concerned,
_Ulysses_ still more so, and _Menelaus_ bathed in tears, but that the head
of Agamemnon (the virgin's father) should be covered with his robe, to
intimate a degree of anguish which no pencil could express: lastly, if a
mere actor on the stage is ever cautious to keep up the character he
appears in, what must be done by the Orator? But as this is a matter of
such importance, let him consider at his leisure, what is proper to be
done in particular causes, and in their several parts and divisions:--for
it is sufficiently evident, not only that the different parts of an
Oration, but that entire causes ought to be managed, some in one manner,
and some in another.

We must now proceed to delineate the form and character of each of the
three species of Eloquence above-mentioned; a great and an arduous talk,
as I have already observed more than once; But we should have considered
the difficulty of the voyage before we embarked: for now we have ventured
to set sail, we must run boldly before the wind, whether we reach our port
or not.

The first character, then, to be described, is the Orator who, according
to some, is the only one that has any just pretensions to _Atticism_. He
is distinguished by his modest simplicity; and as he imitates the language
of conversation, he differs from those who are strangers to Eloquence,
rather in reality than in appearance. For this reason, those who hear him,
though totally unskilled in the art of Speaking, are apt to persuade
themselves that they can readily discourse in the same manner [Footnote:
There is a pretty remark to the same purpose in the fifteenth number of
_The Guardian_, which, as it may serve to illustrate the observation of
Cicero, I shall beg leave to insert.

"From what I have advanced, it appears how difficult it is to write
_easily_. But when easy writings fall into the hands of an ordinary
reader, they appear to him so natural and unlaboured, that he immediately
resolves to write, and fancies that all he has to do is to take no pains.
Thus he thinks indeed simply, but the thoughts not being chosen with
judgment, are not beautiful. He, it is true, expresses himself plainly,
but flatly withal. Again, if a man of vivacity takes it into his head to
write this way, what self-denial must he undergo, when bright points of
wit occur to his fancy? How difficult will he find it to reject florid
phrases, and pretty embellishments of style? So true it is, that
simplicity of all things is the hardest to be copied, and case to be
acquired with the greatest labour."];--and the unaffected simplicity of
his language appears very imitable to an ignorant observer; though nothing
will be found less so by him who makes the trial. For, if I may so express
myself, though his veins are not over-stocked with blood, his juices must
be found and good; and though he is not possessed of any extraordinary
strength, he must have a healthy constitution. For this purpose, we must
first release him from the shackles of _number_; for there is (you know) a
kind of _number_ to be observed by an Orator, which we shall treat of in
the sequel:--but this is to be used in a different species of Eloquence,
and to be relinquished in the present. His language, therefore, must be
free and unconfined, but not loose and irregular, that he may appear to
walk at ease, without reeling or tottering. He will not be at the pains to
cement word to word with a scrupulous exactness: for those breaks which
are made by a collision of vowels, have now and then an agreeable effect,
and betray the not unpleasing negligence of a man who is more felicitous
about things than words. But though he is not to labour at a measured
flow, and a masterly arrangement of his words, he must be careful in other
respects. For even these limited and unaspiring talents are not to be
employed carelessly, but with a kind of industrious negligence: for as
some females are most becoming in a dishabille, so this artless kind of
Eloquence has her charms, though she appears in an undress. There is
something in both which renders them agreeable, without striking the eye.
Here, therefore, all the glitter of ornament, like that of jewels and
diamonds, must be laid aside; nor must we apply even the crisping-iron to
adjust the hair. There must be no colouring, no artful washes to heighten
the complexion: but elegance and neatness must be our only aim. Our style
muft be pure, and correct;--we must speak with clearness and perspicuity;
--and be always attentive to appear in character. There is one thing,
however, which must never be omitted, and which is reckoned by
Theophrastus to be one of the chief beauties of composition;--I mean that
sweet and flowing ornament, a plentiful intermixture of lively sentiments,
which seem to result from a natural fund of good sense, and are peculiarly
graceful in the Orator we are now describing. But he will be very moderate
in using the _furniture_ of Eloquence: for (if I may be allowed such an
expression) there is a species of furniture belonging to us, which
consists in the various ornaments of sentiment and language. The ornaments
of language are two-fold; the one sort relates to words as they stand
singly, and the other as they are connected together. A _single_ word (I
speak of those which are _proper_, and in common use) is then said to be
well chosen, when it founds agreeably, and is the best which could have
been taken to express our meaning. Among borrowed and _translatitious_
[Footnote: Words which are transferred from their primitive meaning to a
metaphorical one.] words, (or those which are not used in their proper
sense) we may reckon the metaphor, the metonymy, and the rest of the
tropes; as also compounded and new-made words, and such as are obsolete
and out of date; but obsolete words should rather be considered as proper
ones, with this only difference, that we seldom make use of them. As to
words in connection, these also may be considered as ornamental, when they
have a certain gracefulness which would be destroyed by changing their
order, though the meaning would still remain the same. For as to the
ornaments of sentiment, which lose nothing of their beauty, by varying the
position of the words,--these, indeed, are very numerous, though only a
few of them are remarkably striking.

The Orator, then, who is distinguished by the simplicity of his manner,
provided he is correct and elegant, will be sparing in the use of new
words; easy and modest in his metaphors; and very cautious in the use of
words which are antiquated;--and as to the other ornaments of language and
sentiment, here also he will be equally plain and reserved. But in the use
of metaphors, he will, perhaps, take greater liberties; because these are
frequently introduced in conversation, not only by Gentlemen, but even by
rustics, and peasants: for we often hear them say that the vine _shoots
out_ it's buds, that the fields are _thirsty_, the corn _lively_, and the
grain _rich_ and flourishing. Such expressions, indeed, are rather bold:
but the resemblance between the metaphor and the object is either
remarkably obvious; or else, when the latter has no proper name to express
it, the metaphor is so far from appearing to be laboured, that we seem to
use it merely to explain our meaning. This, therefore, is an ornament in
which our artless Orator may indulge himself more freely; but not so
openly as in the more diffusive and lofty species of Eloquence. For that
_indecorum_, which is best understood by comparing it with its opposite
quality, will even here be viable when a metaphor is too conspicuous;--or
when this simple and dispassionate sort of language is interrupted by a
bold ornament, which would have been proper enough in a different kind of
Elocution.

As to that sort of ornament which regards the position of words, and
embellishes it with those studied graces, which are considered by the
Greeks as so many _attitudes_ of language, and are therefore called
_figures_, (a name which is likewise extended to the flowers of
sentiment;)--the Orator before us, who may justly be regarded as an
_Attic_ Speaker, provided the title is not confined to him, will make use
even of _this_, though with great caution and moderation. He will conduct
himself as if he was setting out an entertainment, and while he carefully
avoids a splendid magnificence, he will not only be plain and frugal, but
neat and elegant, and make his choice accordingly. For there is a kind of
genteel parsimony, by which his character is distinguished from that of
others. He will, therefore, avoid the more conspicuous ornaments above-
mentioned, such as the contracting word to word,--the concluding the
several members of a sentence with the same cadence, or confining them to
the same measure,--and all the studied prettiness which are formed by the
change of a letter, or an artful play of found;--that, if possible, there
may not be the slightest appearance, or even suspicion, of a design to
please. As to those repetitions which require an earnest and forcible
exertion of the voice, these also would be equally out of character in
this lower species of Eloquence; but he may use the other ornaments of
Elocution at his pleasure, provided he checks and interrupts the flow of
his language, and softens it off by using familiar expressions, and such
metaphors as are plain and obvious. Nay, even as to the figures of
sentiment, he may sometimes indulge himself in those which are not
remarkably bold and striking. Thus, for instance, we must not allow him to
introduce the Republic as speaking, nor 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 be neither required nor
expected from the simple Orator before us; for as in his voice, so
likewise in his language, he should be ever easy and composed. But 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 it's 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 _humour_. 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 at
present it is not our business to specify them. It will not be amiss,
however, to observe by way of caution, that the powers of _ridicule_ 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;--nor 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 characters 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
humour, as I have never seen it done by any of the modern pretenders to
Atticism, though they cannot deny that this is entirely in the Attic
taste.

Such, then, is the idea which I have formed of a _simple and an easy
Speaker_, who is likewise a very masterly one, and a genuine Athenian; for
whatever is smart and pertinent is unquestionably _Attic_, though some of
the Attic Speakers were not remarkable for their wit. _Lysias_, indeed,
and _Hyperides_ were sufficiently so; and _Demades_, it is said, was more
so than all the others. Demosthenes, however, is thought by many to have
but little merit of the kind; but to me nothing can be more genteel than
he is; though, perhaps, he was rather smart than humourous. The one
requires a quicker genius, but the other more art and address.

But there is a second character, which is 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 we
shall notice in the sequel. In this, 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.
In _this_ all the ornaments of language may be employed without reserve;
and _here_ the flow of our numbers is ever soft and harmonious. Many of
the Greeks have pursued 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_, as I have frequently
observed, 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: for, though,
in this case, there is a kind of metaphor, (because the word is shifted
from its primary object) yet the remove is performed by _Ennius_ in a
different manner, when he says metaphorically,--"_You bereave the citadel
and the city of their offspring_,"--from what it would have been, if he
had put the citadel alone for the whole state: and thus again, when he
tells us that,--"_rugged Africa was shaken by a dreadful tumult_,"--he
puts Africa for the inhabitants. The Rhetoricians call this an
_Hypallage_, because one word is substituted for another: but the
Grammarians call it a _Metonymy_, because the words are shifted and
interchanged. Aristotle, however, subjoins it to the metaphor, as he
likewise does the _Abuse_ or _Catachresis_; by which, for instance, we say
a _narrow, contracted soul_, instead of a _mean_ one, and thus steal an
expression which has a kindred meaning with the proper one, either for the
sake of ornament or decency. When several metaphors are connected together
in a regular chain, the form of speaking is varied. The Greeks call this
an _Allegory_, which indeed is proper enough if we only attend to the
etymology; but if we mean to refer it to its particular _genus_ or kind,
he has done better who comprehends the whole under the general name of
metaphors. These, however, are frequently used by _Phalereus_, and have a
soft and pleasing effect: but though he abounds in the metaphor, he also
makes use of the other tropes with as much freedom as any writer whatever.

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 Elocution, which is interwoven with all
the beautiful embroidery both of language and sentiment. This character
first streamed from the limpid fountains of the _Sophists_ into the Forum;
but being afterwards despised by the more simple and refined kind of
Speakers, and disdainfully rejected by the nervous and weighty; it was
compelled to subside into the peaceful and unaspiring mediocrity we are
speaking of.

The _third character_ is the extensive,--the copious,--the nervous,--the
majestic Orator, who possesses the powers of Elocution 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_ the Eloquence that alarms or sooths them at her
pleasure! This is the Eloquence 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 which ingrafts
opinions that are new, and eradicates the old; but yet is widely different
from the two characters of Speaking before-mentioned.

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 Harangue; 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 nervous,--the fierce,--the flaming Orator, if he
is born for this alone, and only practices 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 nothing calmly,--nothing gently--nothing methodically,
--nothing clearly, distinctly, or humourously, (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 audience, will appear to rave before men of
understanding, and to vapour like a person intoxicated before the sober
and sedate.

Thus then, my Brutus, we have at last discovered the finished Orator we
are seeking for: but we have caught him in imagination only;--for if I
could have seized him with my hands, not all his Eloquence should persuade
me to release him. We have at length, however, discovered the eloquent
Speaker, whom Antonius never saw.--But who, then, is he?--I will comprize
his character in a few words, and afterwards unfold it more at large.--He,
then, is an Orator indeed! who can speak upon trivial subjects with
simplicity and art, upon weighty ones with energy and pathos, and upon
those of middling import with calmness and moderation. You will tell me,
perhaps, that such a Speaker has never existed. Be it so:--for I am now
discoursing not upon what I _have_ seen, but upon what I could _wish_ to
see; and must therefore recur to that primary semblance or ideal form of
Plato which I have mentioned before, and which, though it cannot be seen
with our bodily eyes, may be comprehended by the powers of imagination.
For I am not seeking after a living Orator, or after any thing which is
mortal and perishing, but after that which confers a right to the title of
_eloquent_; in other words, I am seeking after Eloquence herself, who can
be discerned only by the eye of the mind.

He then is truly an _Orator_, (I again repeat it,) who can speak upon
trivial subjects with simplicity, upon indifferent ones with moderation,
and upon weighty subjects with energy and pathos. [Footnote: Our Author is
now going to indulge himself in the _Egotism_,--a figure, which, upon many
occasions, he uses as freely as any of the figures of Rhetoric. How the
Reader will relish it, I know not; but it is evident from what follows,
and from another passage of the same kind further on, that Cicero had as
great a veneration for his own talents as any man living. His merit,
however, was so uncommon both as a Statesman, a Philosopher, and an
Orator, and he has obliged posterity with so many useful and amazing
productions of genius, that we ought in gratitude to forgive the vanity of
the _man_. Although he has ornamented the socket in which he has _set_ his
character, with an extravagant (and I had almost said ridiculous)
profusion of self-applause, it must be remembered that the diamond it
contains is a gem of inestimable value.] The cause I pleaded for Caecina
related entirely to the bare letter of the Interdict: here, therefore, I
explained what was intricate by a definition,--spoke in praise of the
Civil Law,--and dissolved the ambiguities which embarrassed the meaning of
the Statute.--In recommending the Manilian Law, I was to blazon the
character of _Pompey_, and therefore indulged myself in all that variety
of ornament which is peculiar to the second species of Eloquence. In the
cause of Rabirius, as the honour of the Republic was at stake, I blazed
forth in every species of amplification. But these characters are
sometimes to be intermingled and diversified. Which of them, therefore, is
not to be met with in my seven Invectives against _Verres_? or in the
cause of _Habitus_? or in that of _Cornelius_? or indeed in most of my
Defences? I would have specified the particular examples, did I not
believe them to be sufficiently known; or, at least, very easy to be
discovered by those who will take the trouble to seek for them. For there
is nothing which can recommend an Orator in the different characters of
speaking, but what has been exemplified in my Orations,--if not to
perfection, yet at least it has been attempted, and faintly delineated. I
have not, indeed, the vanity to think I have arrived at the summit; but I
can easily discern what Eloquence ought to be. For I am not to speak of
myself, but to attend to my subject; and so far am I from admiring my own
productions, that, on the contrary, I am so nice and difficult, as not to
be entirely satisfied with Demosthenes himself, who, though he rises with
superior eminence in every species of Eloquence, does not always fill my
ear;--so eager is it, and so insatiable, as to be ever coveting what is
boundless and immense. But as, by the assistance of _Pammenes_, who is
very fond of that Orator, you made yourself thoroughly acquainted with him
when you was at _Athens_, and to this day scarcely ever part with him from
your hands, and yet frequently condescend to peruse what has been written
by _me_; you must certainly have taken notice that he hath _done_ much,
and that I have _attempted_ much,--that he has been _happy_ enough, and I
_willing_ enough to speak, upon every occasion, as the nature of the
subject required. But he, beyond dispute, was a consummate Orator; for he
not only succeeded several eminent Speakers, but had many such for his
cotemporaries:--and I also, if I could have reached the perfection I aimed
at, should have made no despicable figure in a city, where (according to
Antonius) the voice of genuine Eloquence was never heard.

But if to Antonius neither Crassus, nor even himself, appeared to be
_eloquent_, we may presume that neither Cotta, Sulpicius, nor Hortensius
would have succeeded any better. For _Cotta_ had no expansion, _Sulpicius_
no temper, and _Hortensius_ too little dignity. But the two former (I mean
Crassus and Antonius) had a capacity which was better adapted to every
species of Oratory. I had, therefore, to address myself to the ears of a
city which had never been filled by that multifarious and extensive
Eloquence we are discoursing of; and I first allured them (let me have
been what you please, or what ever were my talents) to an incredible
desire of hearing the finished Speaker who is the subject of the present
Essay. For with what acclamations did I deliver that passage in my youth
concerning the punishment of parricides [Footnote: Those unnatural and
infamous wretches, among the Romans, were sown into a leathern sack, and
thus thrown into the sea; to intimate that they were unworthy of having
the lead communication with the common elements of water, earth, and
air.], though I was afterwards sensible it was too warm and extravagant?
--"What is so common, said I, as air to the living, earth to the dead, the
sea to floating corpses, and the shore to those who are caft upon it by
the waves! But these wretches, as long as life remains, so live as not to
breathe the air of heaven;--they so perish, that their limbs are not
suffered to touch the earth;--they are so tossed to and fro' by the waves,
as never to be warned by them;--and when they are cast on the shore, their
dead, carcases cannot rest upon the surface of the rocks!" All this, as
coming from a youth, was much applauded, not for it's ripeness and
solidity, but for the hopes it gave the Public of my future improvement.
From the same capacity came those riper expressions,--"She was the spouse
of her son-in-law, the step-mother of her own offspring? and the mistress
of her daughter's husband [Footnote: This passage occurs in the peroration
of his Defence of Cluentius]."

But I did not always indulge myself in this excessive ardour of
expression, or speak every thing in the same manner: for even that
youthful redundance which was so visible in the defence of _Roscius_, had
many passages which were plain and simple, and some which were, tolerably
humourous. But the Orations in defence of _Habitus_, and _Cornelius_, and
indeed many others; (for no single Orator, even among the peaceful and
speculative Athenians, has composed such a number as I have;)--these, I
say, have all that variety which I so much approve. For have _Homer_ and
_Ennius_, and the rest of the Poets, but especially the tragic writers,
not expressed themselves at all times with the same elevation, but
frequently varied their manner, and sometimes lowered it to the style of
conversation; and shall I oblige myself never to descend from that highest
energy of language? Bit why do I mention the Poets whose talents are
divine! The very actors on the stage, who have most excelled in their
profession, have not only succeeded in very different characters, though
still in the same province; but a comedian has often acted tragedies, and
a tragedian comedies so as to give us universal satisfaction. Wherefore,
then, should not _I_ also exert my efforts? But when I say _myself_, my
worthy Brutus I mean _you_: for as to _me_, I have already done all, I was
capable of doing. Would _you_, then, plead every cause in the same manner?
Or is there any sort of causes which your genius would decline? Or even in
the same cause, would you always express yourself in the same strain, and
without any variety? Your favourite _Demosthenes_, whose brazen statue I
lately beheld among your own, and your family images, when I had the
pleasure to visit you at Tusculanum,--Demosthenes, I say, was nothing
inferior to _Lysias_ in simplicity; to _Hyperides_ in smartness and
poignancy, or to _Aeschines_ in the smoothness and splendor of his
language. There are many of his Orations which are entirely of the close
and simple character, as that against _Lepsines_; many which are all
nervous, and striking, as those against _Philip_; and many which are of a
mixed character, as that against _Aeschines_, concerning the false
embassy, and another against the same person in defence of _Ctesiphon_. At
other times he strikes into the _mean_ at his pleasure, and quitting the
nervous character, descends to this with all the ease imaginable. But he
raises the acclamations of his audience, and his Oratory is then most
weighty and powerful, when he applies himself to the _nervous_.

But as our enquiries relate to the art, and not to the artist, let us
leave _him_ for the present, and consider the nature and the properties of
the object before us,--that is, of _Eloquence_. We must keep in mind,
however, what I have already hinted,--that we are not required to deliver
a system of precepts, but to write as judges and critics, rather than
teachers. But I have expatiated so largely upon the subject, because I
foresee that you (who are, indeed, much better versed in it, than I who
pretend to inform you) will not be my only reader; but that my little
essay, though not much perhaps to my credit, will be made public, and with
your name prefixed to it.

I am of opinion, therefore, that a finished Orator should not only possess
the talent (which, indeed, is peculiar, to himself) of speaking copiously
and diffusively: but that he should also borrow the assistance of it's
nearest neighbour, the art of Logic. For though public speaking is one
thing, and disputing another; and though there is a visible difference
between a private controversy, and a public Harangue; yet both the one and
the other come under the notion of reasoning. But mere discourse and
argument belongs to the Logician, and the art of Speaking gracefully and
ornamentally is the prerogative of the Orator. _Zeno_, the father of the
_Stoics_, used to illustrate the difference between the two by holding up
his hand;--for when he clenched his fingers, and presented a close fist,--
"_that_," he said, "was an emblem of Logic:"--but when he spread them out
again, and displayed his open hand,--"this," said he, "resembles
Eloquence." But Aristotle observed before him, in the introduction to his
Rhetoric, that it is an art which has a near resemblance to that of
Logic;--and that the only difference between them is, that the method of
reasoning in the former is more diffusive, and in the latter more close
and contracted.

I, therefore, advise that our finished Orator make himself master of every
thing in the art of Logic, which is applicable to his profession:--an art
(as your thorough knowledge of it has already informed you) which is
taught after two methods. For Aristotle himself has delivered a variety of
precepts concerning the art of Reasoning:--and besides these, the
_Dialecticians_ (as they are called) have produced many intricate and
thorny speculations of their own. I am, therefore, of opinion, that he who
is ambitious to be applauded for his Eloquence, should not be wholly
unacquainted with this branch of Erudition; but that he ought (at least)
to be properly instructed either in the old method, or in that of
_Chrysippus_. In the first place, he should understand the force, the
extension, and the different species of words as they stand singly, or
connected into sentences. He should likewise be acquainted with the
various modes and forms in which any conception of the mind may be
expressed--the methods of distinguishing a true proposition from a false
one;--the different conclusions which result from different premises;--the
true consequences and opposites to any given proposition;--and, if an
argument is embarrassed by ambiguities, how to unravel each of them by an
accurate distinction. These particulars, I say, should be well understood
by an Orator, because they are such as frequently occur: but as they are
naturally rugged and unpleasing, they should be relieved in practice by an
easy brilliance of expression.

But as in every topic which is discussed by reason and method, we should
first settle what it is we are to discourse upon,--(for unless the parties
in a dispute are agreed about the subject of it, they can neither reason
with propriety, nor bring the argument to an issue;)--it will frequently
be necessary to explain our notions of it, and, when the matter is
intricate, to lay it open by a _definition_;--for a _definition_ is only a
sentence, or explanation, which specifies, in as few words as possible,
the nature of the object we propose to consider. After the _genus_, or
kind, has been sufficiently determined, we must then proceed (you know) to
examine into it's different species, or subordinate parts, that our whole
discourse may be properly distributed among them. Our Orator, then, should
be qualified to make a just definition;--though not in such a close and
contracted form, as in the critical debates of the Academy, but more
explicitly and copiously, and as will be best adapted to the common way of
thinking, and the capacity of the vulgar. He is likewise, as often as
occasion requires, to divide the genus into it's proper species, so as to
be neither defective, nor redundant. But _how_ and _when_ this should be
done, is not our present business to consider: because, as I observed
before, I am not to assume the part of a teacher, but only of a critic and
a judge.

But he ought to acquaint himself not only with the art of Logic, but with
all the common and most useful branches of Morality. For without a
competent knowledge of these, nothing can be advanced and unfolded with
any spirit and energy, or with becoming dignity and freedom, either
concerning religion,--death,--filial piety,--the love of our country,--
things good or evil,--the several virtues and vices,--the nature of moral
obligation,--grief or pleasure, and the other emotions of the mind,--or
the various errors and frailties of humanity,--and a variety of important
topics which are often closely connected with forensic causes; though
_here_(it is true) they must be touched upon more slightly and
superficially. I am now speaking of the _materials_ of Eloquence, and not
of the _art_ itself:--for an Orator should always be furnished with a
plentiful stock of sentiments,--(I mean such as may claim the attention of
the learned, as well as of the vulgar)--before he concerns himself about
the language and the manner in which he ought to express himself.

That he may make a still more respectable and elevated figure (as we have
already observed of _Pericles_) he should not be unacquainted with the
principles of Natural Philosophy. For when he descends, as it were, from
the starry heavens, to the little concerns of humanity, he will both think
and speak with greater dignity and splendor. But after acquainting himself
with those divine and nobler objects of contemplation, I would have him
attend to human concerns. In particular, let him make himself master of
the _Civil Law_, which is of daily, and indeed necessary use in every kind
of causes. For what can be more scandalous, than to undertake the
management of judicial suits and controversies, without a proper knowledge
of the laws, and of the principles of Equity and Jurisprudence? He
should also be well versed in History and the venerable records of
Antiquity, but particularly those of his own country: not neglecting,
however, to peruse the annals of other powerful nations, and illustrious
monarchs;--a toil which has been considerably shortened by our friend
_Atticus_, who (though he has carefully specified the time of every
event, and omitted no transaction of consequence) has comprized the
history of seven hundred years in a single volume. To be unacquainted with
what has passed in the world, before we came into it ourselves, is to be
always children. For what is the age of a single mortal, unless it is
connected, by the aid of History, with the times of our ancestors?
Besides, the relation of past occurrences, and the producing pertinent and
striking examples, is not only very entertaining, but adds a great deal of
dignity and weight to what we say.

Thus furnished and equipped our Orator may undertake the management of
causes. But, in the first place, he should be well acquainted with their
different kinds. He should know, for instance, that every judicial
controversy must turn either upon a matter of _fact_, or upon the meaning
of some particular expression. As to the former, this must always relate
either to the _reality_ of a fast, the _equity_ of it, or the _name_ it
bears in law. As to forms of expression, these may become the subject of
controversy, when they are either _ambiguous_, or _contradictory_. For
when the _spirit_ of a law appears to be at variance with the _letter_ of
it, this must cause an ambiguity which commonly arises from some of the
preceding terms; so that in this case (for such is the nature of an
ambiguity) the law will appear to have a double meaning.

As the kinds of causes are so few, the rules for the invention of
arguments must be few also. The topics, or common places from which those
arguments are derived, are twofold,--the one _inherent_ in the subject,
and the other _assumptive_. A skilful management of the former contributes
most to, give weight to a discourse, and strike the attention of the
hearer: because they are easy, and familiar to the understanding.

What farther remains (within the province of the Art) but that we should
begin our discourses so as to conciliate the hearer's good-will, or raise
his expectation, or prepare him to receive what follows?--to state the
case before us so concisely, and yet so plausibly and clearly, as that the
substance of it may be easily comprehended?--to support our own proofs,
and refute those of our antagonist, not in a confused and disorderly
manner, but so that every inference may be fairly deducible from the
premises?--and, in the last place, to conclude the whole with a peroration
either to inflame or allay the passions of the audience? How each of these
parts should be conducted is a subject too intricate and extensive for our
present consideration: for they are not always to be managed in the same
manner.

But as I am not seeking a pupil to instruct, but an Orator who is to be
the model of his profession, _he_ must have the preference who can always
discern what is proper and becoming. For Eloquence should, above all,
things, have that kind of discretion which makes her a _perfect mistress
of time and character_: because we are not to speak upon every occasion,
or before every audience, or against every opponent, or in defence of
every client, and to every Judge, in the same invariable manner. He,
therefore, is the man of genuine Eloquence, who can adapt his language to
what is most suitable to each. By doing this, he will be sure to say every
thing as it ought to be said. He will neither speak drily upon copious
subjects, nor without dignity and spirit upon things of importance; but
his language will always be proportioned, and equal to his subject. His
introduction will be modest,--not flaming with all the glare of
expression, but composed of quick and lively turns of sentiment, either to
wound the cause of his antagonist, or recommend his own. His narratives
will be clear and plausible,--not delivered with the grave formality of an
Historian, but in the style of polite conversation. If his cause be
slight, the thread of his argument, both in proving and refuting, will be
so likewise, and he will so conduct it in every part, that his language
may rise and expand itself, as the dignity of his subject encreases. But
when his cause will admit a full exertion of the powers of Eloquence, he
will then display himself more openly;--he will then rule, and bend the
passions, and direct them, at his pleasure,--that is, as the nature of his
cause and the circumstances of the time shall require.

But his powers of ornament will be chiefly exerted upon two occasions; I
mean that striking kind of ornament, from which Eloquence derives her
greatest glory. For though every part of an Oration should have so much
merit, as not to contain a single word but what is either weighty or
elegant; there are two very interesting parts which are susceptible of the
greatest variety of ornament. The one is the discussion of an indefinite
question, or general truth, which by the Greeks (as I have before
observed) is called a _thesis_: and the other is employed in amplifying
and exaggerating, which they call an _auxesis_. Though the latter, indeed,
should diffuse itself more or less through the whole body of a discourse,
it's powers will be more conspicuous in the use and improvement of the
_common places_:--which are so called, as being alike _common_ to a number
of causes, though (in the application of them) they are constantly
appropriated to a single one. But as to the other part, which regards
universal truths, or indefinite questions, this frequently extends through
a whole cause:--for the leading point in debate, or that which the
controversy hinges upon, is always most conveniently discussed when it can
be reduced to a general question, and considered as an universal
proposition:--unless, indeed, when the mere truth of a matter of fact: is
the object: of disquisition: for then the case must be wholly conjectural.
We are not, however, to argue like the _Peripatetics_ (who have a neat
method of controversy which they derive from _Aristotle_) but more
nervously and pressingly; and general sentiments must be so applied to
particular cases, as to leave us room to say many extenuating things in
behalf of the Defendant, and many severe ones against the Plaintiff. But
in heightening or softening a circumstance, the powers of language are
unlimited, and may be properly exerted, even in the middle of an argument,
as often as any thing presents itself which may be either exaggerated, or
extenuated; but, in, controul.

There are two parts, however, which must not be omitted;--for when these
are judiciously conducted, the sorce of Eloquence will be amazing. The one
is a certain _propriety of manner_ (called the _ethic_ by the Greeks)
which readily adapts itself to different dispositions and humours, and to
every station of life:--and the other is the pathetic, which rouses and
alarms the passions, and may be considered as the _scepter_ of Eloquence.
The former is mild and insinuating, and entirely calculated to conciliate
the good-will of the hearer: but the latter is all energy and fire, and
snatches a cause by open violence;--and when it's course is rapid and
unrestrained, the shock is irresistible. I [footnote: Here follows the
second passage above-referred to, in which there is a long string of
_Egotisms_. But as they furnish some very instructive hints, the Reader
will peruse them with more pleasure than pain] myself have possessed a
tolerable share of this, or, it may be, a trifling one:--but as I always
spoke with uncommon warmth and impetuosity, I have frequently forced my
antagonist to relinquish the field. _Hortensius_, an eminent Speaker, once
declined to answer me, though in defence of an intimate friend.
_Cataline_, a most audacious traitor, being publicly accused by me in the
Senate-house, was struck dumb with shame: and _Curio_, the father, when he
attempted to reply to me in a weighty and important cause which concerned
the honour of his family, sat suddenly down, and complained that I had
_bewitched_ him out of his memory. As to moving the pity of my audience,
it will be unnecessary to mention this. I have frequently attempted it
with good success, and when several of us have pleaded on the same side,
this part of the defence was always resigned to me; in which my supposed
excellence was not owing to the superiority of my genius, but to the real
concern I felt for the distresses of my client. But what in this respect
have been my talents (for I have had no reason to complain of them) may be
easily discovered in my Orations:--though a book, indeed, must lose much
of the spirit which makes a speech delivered in public appear to greater
advantage than when it is perused in the closet.

But we are to raise not only the pity of our judges, (which I have
endeavoured so passionately, that I once took up an infant in my arms
while I was speaking;--and, at another time, calling up the nobleman in
whose defence I spoke, and holding up a little child of his before the
whole assembly, I filled the Forum with my cries and lamentations:)--but
it is also necessary to rouse the judge's indignation, to appease it, to
excite his jealousy, his benevolence, his contempt, his wonder, his
abhorrence, his love, his desire, his aversion, his hope, his fear, his
joy, and his grief:--in all which variety, you may find examples, in many
accusatory speeches, of rousing the harsher passions; and my Defences will
furnish instances enough of the methods of working upon the gentler. For
there is no method either of alarming or soothing the passions, but what
has been attempted by _me_. I would say I have carried it to perfection,
if I either thought so, or was not afraid that (in this case) even truth
itself might incur the charge of arrogance. But (as I have before
observed) I have been so much transported, not by the force of my genius,
but by the real fervor of my heart, that I was unable to restrain myself:
--and, indeed, no language will inflame the mind of the hearer, unless the
Speaker himself first catches the ardor, and glows with the importance of
his subject. I would refer to examples of my own, unless you had seen them
already; and to those of other Speakers among the Romans, if I could
produce any, or among the Greeks, if I judged it proper. But _Crassus_
will only furnish us with a few, and those not of the forensic kind:--
_Antonius, Cotta_, and _Sulpicius_ with none:--and as to _Hortensius_, he
spoke much better than he wrote. We may, therefore, easily judge how
amazing must be the force of a talent, of which we have so few examples:--
but if we are resolved to seek for them, we must have recourse to
_Demosthenes_, in whom we find almost a continued succession of them, in
that part of his Oration for _Ctesiphon_, where he enlarges on his own
actions, his measures, and his good services to the State, For that
Oration, I must own, approaches so near to the primary form or semblance
of Eloquence which exists in my mind, that a more complete and exalted
pattern is scarcely desirable. But still, there will remain a general
model or character, the true nature and excellence of which may be easily
collected from the hints I have already offered.

We have slightly touched upon the ornaments
of language, both in single words, and in words as they stand connected
with each other;--in which our Orator will so indulge himself, that not a
single expression may escape him, but what is either elegant or weighty.
But he will most abound in the _metaphor_; which, by an aptness of
similitude, conveys and transports the mind from object to object, and
hurries it backwards and forwards through a pleasing variety of images;--a
motion which, in its own nature, (as being full of life and action) can
never fail to be highly delightful. As to the other ornaments of language
which regard words as they are connected with each other, an Oration will
derive much of its lustre from these. They are like the decorations in the
Theatre, or the Forum, which not only embellish, but surprize. [Footnote:
In the following Abstract of the Figures of _Language_ and _Sentiment_, I
have often paraphrased upon my author, to make him intelligible to the
English reader;--a liberty which I have likewise taken in several other
places, where I judged it necessary.] For such also is the effect of the
various _figures_ or decorations of language;--such as the doubling or
repetition of the same word;--the repeating it with a slight variation;
--the beginning or concluding several sentences in the same manner, or
both at once;--the making a word, which concludes a preceding sentence, to
begin the following;--the concluding a sentence with the same expression
which began it;--the repeating the same word with a different meaning;
--the using several corresponding words in the same case, or with the same
termination;--the contrasting opposite expressions;--the using words whose
meaning rises in gradation;--the leaving out the conjunctive particles to
shew our earnestness;--the passing by, or suddenly dropping a circumstance
we were going to mention, and assigning a reason for so doing;
--[Footnote: We have an instance of this, considered as a figure of
language, in the following line of Virgil;
Quos ego--, sed praestat motos componere fluctus.
Aeneid. I.
Whom I--, but let me still the raging waves.
This may likewise serve as an example of the figure which is next
mentioned.] the pretending to correct or reprove ourselves, that we may
seem to speak without artifice or partiality;--the breaking out into a
sudden exclamation, to express our wonder, our abhorrence, or our grief;--
and the using the same noun in different cases.

But the figures of _sentiment_ are more weighty and powerful; and there
are some who place the highest merit of _Demosthenes_ in the frequent use
he makes of them. For be his subject what it will, almost all his
sentences have a figurative air: and, indeed, a plentiful intermixture of
this sort of figures is the very life and soul of a popular Eloquence. But
as you are thoroughly acquainted with these, my Brutus, what occasion is
there to explain and exemplify them? The bare mention of them will be
sufficient.--Our Orator, then, will sometimes exhibit an idea in different
points of view, and when he has started a good argument, he will dwell
upon it with an honest exultation;--he will extenuate what is
unfavourable, and have frequent recourse to raillery;--he will sometimes
deviate from his plan, and seem to alter his first purpose:--he will
inform his audience beforehand, what are the principal points upon which
he intends to rest his cause;--he will collect and point out the force of
the arguments he has already discussed; he will check an ardent
expression, or boldly reiterate what he has said;--he will close a lively
paragraph with some weighty and convincing sentiment;--he will press upon
his adversary by repeated interrogations;--he will reason with himself,
and answer questions of his own proposing;--he will throw out expressions
which he designs to be otherwise understood than they seem to mean;--he
will pretend to doubt what is most proper to be said, and in what order;--
he will divide an action, &c. into its several parts and circumstances, to
render it more striking;--he will pretend to pass over and relinquish a
circumstance which might have been urged to advantage;--he will secure
himself against the known prejudices of his audience;--he will turn the
very circumstance which is alledged against him to the prejudice of his
antagonist;--he will frequently appeal to his hearers, and sometimes to
his opponent;--he will represent the very language and manners of the
persons he is speaking of;--he will introduce irrational and even
inanimate beings, as addressing themselves to his audience;--he will (to
serve some necessary purpose) steal off their attention from the point in
debate;--he will frequently move them to mirth and laughter;--he will
answer every thing which he foresees will be objected;--he will compare
similar incidents,--refer to past examples,--and by way of amplification
assign their distinguishing qualities to opposite characters and
circumstances;--he will check an impertinent plea which may interrupt his
argument;--he will pretend not to mention what he might have urged to good
purpose;--he will caution his hearers against the various artifices and
subterfuges which may be employed to deceive them;--he will sometimes
appear to speak with an honest, but unguarded freedom;--he will avow his
resentment;--he will entreat;--he will earnestly supplicate;--he will
apologize;--he will seem for a moment to forget himself;--he will express
his hearty good wishes for the deserving, and vent his execrations against
notorious villainy;--and now and then he will descend imperceptibly to the
most tender and insinuating familiarities. There are likewise Other
beauties of composition which he will not fail to pursue;--such as brevity
where the subject requires it;--a lively and pathetic description of
important occurrences;--a passionate exaggeration of remarkable
circumstances;--an earnestness of expression which implies more than is
said;--a well-timed variety of humour;--and a happy imitation of different
characters and dispositions. Assisted and adorned by such figures as
these, which are very numerous, the force of Eloquence will appear in its
brightest lustre. But even these, unless they are properly formed and
regulated, by a skilful disposition of their constituent words, will never
attain the merit we require;--a subject which I shall be obliged to treat
of in the sequel, though I am restrained partly by the circumstances
already mentioned, but much more so by the following. For I am sensible
not only that there are some invidious people, to whom every improvement
appears vain and superfluous; but that even those, who are well-wishers to
my reputation, may think it beneath the dignity of a man whose public
services have been so honourably distinguished by the Senate, and the
whole body of the Roman people, to employ my pen so largely upon the art
of Speaking. [Footnote: The long apology which our author is now going to
make for bestowing his time in composing a treatise of Oratory, is in fact
a very artful as well as an elegant digression; to relieve the dryness and
intricacy of the abstract he has just given us of the figures of rhetoric,
and of the subsequent account of the rules of prosaic harmony. He has also
enlivened that account (which is a very long one) in the same manner, by
interspersing it, at convenient distances, with fine examples, agreeable
companions, and short historical digressions to elucidate the subject.]

If, however, I was to return no other answer to the latter, but that I was
unwilling to deny any thing to the request of Brutus, the apology must be
unexceptionable; because I am only aiming at the satisfaction of an
intimate friend, and a worthy man, who desires nothing of me but what is
just and honourable.

But was I even to profess (what I wish I was capable of) that I mean to
give the necessary precepts, and point out the road to Eloquence to those
who are desirous to qualify themselves for the Forum, what man of sense
could blame me for it? For who ever doubted that in the decision of
political matters, and in time of peace, Eloquence has always borne the
sway in the Roman state, while Jurisprudence has possessed only the second
post of honour? For whereas the former is a constant source of authority
and reputation, and enables us to defend ourselves and our friends in the
most effectual manner;--the other only furnishes us with formal rules for
indictments, pleas, protests, &c. in conducting which she is frequently
obliged to sue for the assistance of Eloquence;--but if the latter
condescends to oppose her, she is scarcely able to maintain her ground,
and defend her own territories. If therefore to teach the Civil Law has
always been reckoned a very honourable employment, and the houses of the
most eminent men of that profession, have been crowded with disciples; who
can be reasonably censured for exciting our youth to the study of
Eloquence, and furnishing them with all the assistance in his power? If it
is a fault to speak gracefully, let Eloquence be for ever banished from
the state. But if, on the contrary, it reflects an honour, not only upon
the man who possesses it, but upon the country which gave him birth, how
can it be a disgrace to _learn_, what it is so glorious to _know_? Or why
should it not be a credit to _teach_ what it is the highest honour to
have _learned_?

But, in one case, they will tell me, the practice has been sanctified by
custom, and in the other it has not. This I grant: but We may easily
account for both. As to the gentlemen of the law, it was sufficient to
hear them, when they decided upon such cases as were laid before them in
the course of business;--so that when they taught, they did not set apart
any particular time for that purpose, but the same answers satisfied their
clients and their pupils. On the other hand, as our Speakers of eminence
spent their time, while at home, in examining and digesting their causes,
and while in the Forum in pleading them, and the remainder of it in a
seasonable relaxation, what opportunity had they for teaching and
instructing others? I might venture to add that most of our Orators have
been more distinguishied by their _genius_, than by their _learning_; and
for that reason were much better qualified to be _Speakers_ than
_Teachers_; which it is possible may be the reverse of my case.--"True,"
say they; "but teaching is an employment which is far from being
recommended by its dignity." And so indeed it is, if we teach like mere
pedagogues. But if we only direct, encourage, examine, and inform our
pupils; and sometimes accompany them in reading or hearing the
performances of the most eminent Speakers;--if by these means we are able
to contribute to their improvement, what should hinder us from
communicating a few instructions, as opportunity offers? Shall we deem it
an honourable employment, as indeed with us it is, to teach the form of a
legal process, or an excommunication from the rites and privileges of our
religion; and shall it not be equally honourable to teach the methods by
which those privileges may be defended and secured?--"Perhaps it may,"
they will reply; "but even those who know scarcely any thing of the law
are ambitious to be thought masters of it; whereas those who are well
furnished with the powers of Eloquence pretend to be wholly unacquainted
with them; because they are sensible that useful knowledge is a valuable
recommendation, whereas an artful tongue is suspected by every one." But
is it possible, then, to exert the powers of Eloquence without discovering
them? Or is an Orator really thought to be no Orator, because he disclaims
the title? Or is it likely that, in a great and noble art, the world will
judge it a scandal to _teach_ what it is the greatest honour to _learn_?
Others, indeed, may have been more reserved; but, for my part, I have
always owned my profession. For how could I do otherwise, when, in my
youth, I left my native land, and crossed the sea, with no other view but
to improve myself in this kind of knowledge; and, when afterwards my house
was crowded with the ablest professors, and my very style betrayed some
traces of a liberal education? Nay, when my own writings were in every
body's hands, with what face could I pretend that I had not studied? Or
what excuse could I have for submitting my abilities to the judgment of
the public, if I had been apprehensive that they would think I had studied
to no purpose? [Footnote: This sentence in the original runs thus;--_Quid
erat cur probarem_ (i.e. scripta nostra), _nisi quod parum fortasse
profeceram_?--"Wherefore did I approve of them," (that is, of my writings,
so far as to make them public) "but because I had," (in my own opinion)
"made a progress, though perhaps a small one, in useful literature?" This,
at least, is the only meaning I am able to affix to it; and I flatter
myself, that the translation I have given of it, will be found to
correspond with the general sense of my author.] But the points we have
already discussed are susceptible of greater dignity and elevation, than
those which remain to be considered. For we are next to treat of the
arrangement of our words; and, indeed, I might have said, of the art of
numbering and measuring our very syllables; which, though it may, in
reality, be a matter of as much consequence as I judge it to be, cannot
however be supposed to have such a striking appearance in precept as in
practice. This, indeed, might be said of every other branch of useful
knowledge; but it is more remarkably true with respect to this. For the
actual growth and improving height of all the sublimer arts, like that of
trees, affords a pleasing prospect; whereas the roots and stems are
scarcely beheld with indifference: and yet the former cannot subsist
without the latter. But whether I am restrained from dissembling the
pleasure I take in the subject, by the honest advice of the Poet, who
says,

"Blush not to own the art you love to practise."

or whether this treatise has been extorted from me by the importunity of
my friend, it was proper to obviate the censures to which it will probably
expose me. And yet, even supposing that I am mistaken in my sentiments,
who would shew himself so much of a savage, as to refuse me his indulgence
(now all my forensic employments and public business are at an end) for
not resigning myself to that stupid inactivity which is contrary to my
nature, or to that unavailing sorrow which I do my best to overcome,
rather than devote myself to my favourite studies? These first conducted
me into the Forum and the Senate-House, and they are now the chief
comforts of my retirement. I have, however, applied myself not only to
such speculations as form the subject of the present Essay, but to others
more sublime and interesting; and if I am able to discuss them in a proper
manner, my private studies will be no disparagement to my forensic
employments.

But it is time to return to our subject.--Our words, then, should be so
disposed that every following one may be aptly connected with the
preceding, so as to make an agreeable sound;--or that the mere form and
_concinnity_ of our language may give our sentences their proper measure
and dimensions;--or, lastly, that our periods may have a numerous and
measured cadence.

The first thing, then, to be attended to, is the _structure_ of our
language, or the agreeable connection of one word with another; which,
though it certainly requires care, ought not to be practised with a
laborious nicety. For this would be an endless and puerile attempt, and is
justly ridiculed by _Lucilius_, when he introduces _Scaevola_ thus
reflecting upon _Albucius_:

"As in the checquer'd pavement ev'ry square
Is nicely fitted by the mason's care:
So all thy words are plac'd with curious art,
And ev'ry syllable performs its part."

But though we are not to be minutely exact in the _structure_ of our
language, a moderate share of practice will habituate us to every thing of
this nature which is necessary. For as the eye in _reading_, so the mind
in _speaking_, will readily discern what ought to follow,--that, in
connecting our words, there may neither be a chasm, nor a disagreeable
harshness. The most lively and interesting sentiments, if they are harshly
expressed, will offend the ear, that delicate and fastidious judge of
rhetorical harmony. This circumstance, therefore, is so carefully attended
to in the Roman language, that there is scarcely a rustic among us who is
not averse to a collision of vowels,--a defect which, in the opinion of
some, was too scrupulously avoided by _Theopompus_, though his master
_Isocrates_ was equally cautious. But _Thucydides_ was not so exact; nor
was Plato, (though a much better writer)--not only in his _Dialogues_, in
which it was necessary to maintain an easy negligence, to resemble the
style of conversation, but in the famous _Panegyric_, in which (according
to the custom of the Athenians) he celebrated the praises of those who
fell in battle, and which was so greatly esteemed, that it is publicly
repeated every year. In that Oration a collision of vowels occurs very
frequently; though _Demosthenes_ generally avoids it as a fault.

But let the Greeks determine for themselves: we Romans are not allowed to
interrupt the connection of our words. Even the rude and unpolished
Orations of _Cato_ are a proof of this; as are likewise all our poets,
except in particular instances, in which they were obliged to admit a few
breaks, to preserve their metre. Thus we find in _Naevius_,

"_Vos_ QUI ACCOLITIS _histrum_ FLUVIUM ATQUE ALGIDUM."

And in another place,

"_Quam nunquam vobis_ GRAII ATQUE _Barbari_."

But _Ennius_ admits it only once, when he says,

"_Scipio invicte_;"

and likewise I myself in

"_Hoc motu radiantis_ ETESIAE IN _Vada Ponti_."

This, however, would seldom be suffered among us, though the Greeks often
commend it as a beauty.

But why do I speak of a collision of vowels? for, omitting this, we have
frequently _contracted_ our words for the sake of brevity; as in _multi'
modis, vas' argenteis, palm' et crinibus, tecti' fractis_, &c. We have
sometimes also contracted our proper _names_, to give them a smoother
sound: for as we have changed _Duellum_ into _Bellum_, and _duis_ into
_bis_, so _Duellius_, who defeated the Carthagenians at sea, was called
_Bellius_, though all his ancestors were named _Duellii_. We likewise
abbreviate our words, not only for convenience, but to please and gratify
the ear. For how otherwise came _axilla_ to be changed into _ala_, but by
the omission of an unweildy consonant, which the elegant pronunciation of
our language has likewise banished from the words _maxillae, taxillae,
vexillum_, and _paxillum_?

Upon the same principle, two or more words have been contracted into one,
as _sodes_ for _si audes_, _sis_ for _si vis_, _capsis_ for _cape si vis_,
_ain'_ for _aisne_, _nequire_ for _non quire_, _malle_ for _magis velle_,
and _nolle_ for _non velle_; and we often say _dein'_ and _exin'_ for
_deinde_ and _exinde_. It is equally evident why we never say _cum nobis_,
but _nobiscum_; though we do not scruple to say _cum illis_;--_viz._
because, in the former case, the union of the consonants _m_ and _n_ would
produce a jarring sound: and we also say _mecum_ and _tecum_, and not _cum
me_ and _cum te_, to correspond with _nobiscum_ and _vobiscum_. But some,
who would correct antiquity rather too late, object to these contractions:
for, instead of _prob_ DEM _atque hominum fidem_, they say _Deorum_. They
are not aware, I suppose, that custom has sanctified the licence. The same
Poet, therefore, who, almost without a precedent, has said _patris mei
MEM FACTM pudet_, instead of _meorum factorum_,--and _textitur exitim
examen rapit_ for _exitiorum_, does not choose to say _liberum_, as we
generally do in the expressions _cupidos liberm_, and _in liberm loco_,
but, as the literary virtuosos above-mentioned would have it,

_neque tuum unquam in gremium extollas_
LIBERORUM _ex te genus_,

and,

_namque Aesculap_ LIBERORUM.

But the author before quoted says in his Chryses, not only

_Cives, antiqui amici majorum_ MEM,

which was common enough--, but more harshly still,

CONSILIM, AUGURIM, _atque_ EXTM _interpretes_;

and in another place,

_Postquam_ PRODIGIM HORRIFERM PORTENTM _pavos_.

a licence which is not customary in all neuters indifferently: for I
should not be so willing to say armm _judicium_, as _armorum_; though in
the same writer we meet with _nihilne ad te de judicio_ armm _accidit_?
And yet (as we find it in the public registers) I would venture to say
_fabrm_, and _procm_, and not _fabrorum_ and _procorum_. But I would
never say duorum virorum _judicium_, or _trium_ virorum _capitalium_, or
_decem_ virorum _litibus judicandis_. In Accius, however, we meet with

_Video sepulchra duo_ duorum _corporum_;

though in another place he says,

_Mulier una_ duum virum.

I know, indeed, which is most conformable to the rules of grammar: but yet
I sometimes express myself as the freedom of our language allows me, as
when I say at pleasure, either _prob deum_, or _prob deorum_;--and, at
other times, as I am obliged by custom, as when I say _trium_ virum for
_virorum_, or sestertium nummum for _nummorum_: because in the latter case
the mode of expression is invariable.

But what shall we say when these humourists forbid us to say _nosse_ and
_judicasse_ for _novisse_ and _judicavisse_; as if we did not know, as
well as themselves, that, in these instances, the verb at full length is
most agreeable to the laws of grammar, though custom has given the
preference to the contracted verb? Terence, therefore, has made use of
both, as when he says, _eho tu cognatum tuum non nors_? and afterwards,

_Stilphonem, inquam, noveras_?

Thus also, _fiet_ is a perfect verb, and _fit_ a contracted one; and
accordingly we find in the same Comedian,

_Quam cara_ SINTQUE _post carendo intelligunt_,

and

_Quamque attinendi magni dominatus_ SIENT.

In the same manner I have no objection to _scripsere alii rem_, though I
am sensible that _scripserunt_ is more grammatical; because I submit with
pleasure to the indulgent laws of custom which delights to gratify the
ear. _Idem campus habet_, says Ennius; and in another place, _in templis
sdem_; _eisdem_, indeed, would have been more grammatical, but not
sufficiently harmonious; and _iisdem_ would have sounded still worse.

But we are allowed by custom even to dispense with the rules of etymology
to improve the sweetness of our language; and I would therefore rather
say, _pomeridianas Quadrigas_, than _postmeridianas_; and _mehercule_,
than _mehercules_. For the same reason _non scire_ would now be deemed a
barbarism, becaule _nescire_ has a smoother sound; and we have likewise
substituted _meridiem_ for _medidiem_, because the latter was offensive to
the ear. Even the preposition _ab_, which so frequently occurs in our
compound verbs is preserved entire only in the formality of a Journal,
and, indeed, not always there: in every other sort of language it is
frequently altered. Thus we say _amovit_, _abegit_, and _abstulit_; so
that you can scarcely determine whether the primitive preposition should
be _ab_ or _abs_. We have likewise rejected even _abfugit_, and _abfer_,
and introduced _aufugit_ and _aufer_ in their stead;--thus forming a new
preposition, which is to be found in no other verb but these. _Noti_,
_navi_, and _nari_, have all been words in common use: but when they were
afterwards to be compounded with the preposition _in_, it was thought more
harmonious to say _ignoti_, _ignavi_, and _ignari_, than to adhere
strictly to the rules of etymology. We likewise say _ex usu_, and _e
Republic_; because, in the former case, the preposition is followed by a
vowel, and, in the latter, it would have sounded harshly without omitting
the consonant; as may also be observed in _exegit, edixit, refecit,
retulit_, and _reddidit_.

Sometimes the preposition alters or otherwise affects the first letter of
the verb with which it happens to be compounded; as in _subegit,
summutavit_, and _sustutit_. At other times it changes one of the
subsequent letters; as when we say _insipientem_ for _insapientem_,
_iniquum_ for inaequum_, _tricipitem_ for _tricapitem_, and _concisum_ for
_concaesum_: and from hence some have ventured to say _pertisum_ for
_pertaesum_, which custom has never warranted.

But what can be more delicate than our changing even the natural quantity
of our syllables to humour the ear? Thus in the adjectives _inclytus_, and
_inhumanus_, the first syllable after the preposition is short, whereas
_insanus_ and _infelix_ have it long; and, in general, those words whose
first letters are the same as in _sapiens_ and _felix_, have their first
syllable long in composition, but all others have the same syllable short,
as _composuit, consuevit, concrepuit, confecit_. Examine these liberties
by the strict rules of etymology, and they must certainly be condemned;
but refer them to the decision of the ear, and they will be instantly
approved.--What is the reason? Your ear will inform you they have an
easier sound; and every language must submit to gratify the ear. I myself,
because our ancestors never admitted the aspirate, unless where a syllable
began with a vowel, used to say _pulcros, Cetegos, triumpos_, and
_Cartaginem_: but some time afterwards, though not very soon, when this
grammatical accuracy was wrested from me by the censure of the ear, I
resigned the mode of language to the vulgar, and reserved the theory to
myself. But we still say, without any hesitation, _Orcivios, Matones,
Otones, coepiones, sepulcra, coronas_, and _lacrymas_, because the ear
allows it. _Ennius_ always uses _Burrum_, and never _Pyrrhum_; and the
ancient copies of the same author have

_Vi patefecerunt BRUGES_,

not _Phryges_; because the Greek vowel had not then been adopted, though
we now admit both that and the aspirate:--and, in fact, when we had
afterwards occasion to say _Phrygum_ and _Phrygibus_, it was rather absurd
to adopt the Greek letter without adopting their cases, [Footnote: This
passage, as it stands in the original, appears to me unintelligible: I
have therefore taken the liberty to give it a slight alteration.] or at
least not to confine it to the nominative; and yet (in the accusative) we
say _Phryges_, and _Pyrrhum_, to please the ear. Formerly it was esteemed
an elegancy, though it would now be considered as a rusticism, to omit the
_s_ in all words which terminate in _us_, except when they were followed
by a vowel; and the same elision which is so carefully avoided by the
modern Poets, was very far from being reckoned a fault among the ancient:
for they made no scruple to say,

_Qui est OMNIBU' princeps_,

not, as we do, OMNIBUS princeps; and,

_Vit ill DIGNU' locoque_,

not _dignus_.

But if untaught custom has been so ingenious in the formation of agreeable
sounds, what may we not expect from the improvements of art and erudition?
I have, however, been much shorter upon this subject, than I should have
been if I had written upon it professedly: for a comparison of the natural
and customary laws of language would have opened a wide field for
speculation: but I have already enlarged upon it sufficiently, and more,
perhaps, than the nature of my design required.

To proceed then;--as the choice of proper matter, and of suitable words to
express it, depends upon the judgment of the Speaker, but that of
agreeable sounds, and harmonious numbers, upon the decision of the ear;
and because the former is intended for information, and the latter for
pleasure; it is evident that reason must determine the rules of art in one
case, and mere sensation in the other. For we must either neglect the
gratification of those by whom we wish to be approved, or apply ourselves
to invent the most likely methods to promote it.

There are two things which contribute to gratify the ear,--agreeable
_sounds_, and harmonious _numbers_. We shall treat of numbers in the
sequel, and at present confine ourselves to _sound_.--Those words, then,
as we have already observed, are to have the preference which sound
agreeably;--not such as are exquisitely melodious, like those of the
Poets, but such as can be found to our purpose in common language.--_Qu
Pontus Helles_ is rather beyond the mark:--but in

_Auratos aries Colchorum_,

the verse glitters with a moderate harmony of expression; whereas the
next, as ending with a letter which is remarkably flat, is unmusical,

_Frugifera et ferta arva Alfiae tenet_,

Let us, therefore, rather content ourselves with the agreeable mediocrity
of our own language, than emulate the splendor of the Greeks; unless we
are so bigotted to the latter as to hesitate to say with the poet,

_Qu tempestate Paris Helenam, &c_.

we might even imitate what follows, and avoid, as far as possible, the
smallest asperity of sound,

_habeo istam ego PERTERRICREPAM_;

or say, with the same author, in another passage,

_versutiloquas MALITIAS_.

But our words must have a proper _compass_, as well as be connected
together in an agreeable manner; for this, we have observed, is another
circumstance which falls under the notice of the ear. They are confined to
a proper compass, either by certain rules of composition, as by a kind of
natural pause, or by the use of particular forms of expression, which have
a peculiar _concinnity_ in their very texture; such as a succession of
several words which have the same termination, or the comparing similar,
and contrasting opposite circumstances, which will always terminate in a
measured cadence, though no immediate pains should be taken for that
purpose. Gorgias, it is said, was the first Orator who practised this
species of _concinnity_. The following passage in my Defence of _Milo_ is
an example.

"Est enim, Judices, haec non _scripta_, fed _nata_ Lex; quam non
_didicimus, accepimus, legimus_, verum ex Natur ips _arripuimus,
hausimus, expressimus_; ad quam non _docti_, sed _facti_; non
_instituti_, sed _imbuti_ simus."

"For this, my Lords, is a law not written upon tables, but impressed upon
our hearts;--a law which we have not learned, or heard, or read, but
eagerly caught and imbibed from the hand of Nature;--a law to which we
have not been train'd, but originally form'd; and with the principles of
which we have not been furnished by education, but tinctured and
impregnated from the moment of our birth."

In these forms of expression every circumstance is so aptly referred to
some other circumstance, that the regular turn of them does not appear to
have been studied, but to result entirely from the sense. The same effect
is produced by contrasting opposite circumstances; as in the following
lines, where it not only forms a measured sentence, but a verse:

_Eam, quam nihil accusas, damnas,_

Her, whom you ne'er accus'd, you now condemn;

(in prose we should say _condemnas_) and again,

_Bene quam meritam esse autumas, dicis male mereri_,

Her merit, once confess'd, you now deny; and,

_Id quod scis, prodest nihil; id quod nescis, obest_,

From what you've learnt no real good accrues,
But ev'ry ill your ignorance pursues.

Here you see the mere opposition of the terms produces a verse; but in
prosaic composition, the proper form of the last line would be, _quod scis
nihil prodest; quod nescis multum obest_. This contrasting of opposite
circumstances, which the Greeks call an Antithesis, will necessarily
produce what is styled _rhetorical metre_, even without our intending it.
The ancient Orators, a considerable time before it was practised and
recommended by _Isocrates_, were fond of using it; and particularly
_Gorgias_, whose measured cadences are generally owing to the mere
_concinnity_ of his language. I have frequently practised it myself; as,
for instance, in the following passage of my fourth Invective against
_Verres_:

"Conferte _hanc Pacem_ cum _illo Bello_;--_hujus_ Praetoris _Adventum_,
cum _illius_ Imperatoris _Victori_;--hujas _Cohortem impuram_, cum illius
_Exercitu invicto_;--hujus _Libidines_, cum illius _Continenti_;--ab illo
qui cepit _conditas_; ab hoc, qui constitutas accepit, _captas_ dicetis
Syracusas."

"Compare this detestable _peace_ with that glorious _war_,--the _arrival_
of this governor with the _victory_ of that commander,--his _ruffian
guards_, with the _invincible forces_ of the other;--the brutal luxury of
the former, with the modest temperance of the latter;--and you will say,
that Syracuse was really _founded_ by him who _stormed_ it, and _stormed_
by him who received it already _founded_ to his hands."--So much, then,
for that kind of measure which results from particular forms of
expression, and which ought to be known by every Orator.

We must now proceed to the third thing proposed,--that _numerous_ and
well-adjusted style; of the beauty of which, if any are so insensible as
not to feel it, I cannot imagine what kind of ears they have, or what
resemblance of a human Being! For my part, my ears are always fond of a
complete and full-measured flow of words, and perceive in an instant what
is either defective or redundant. But wherefore do I say _mine_? I have
frequently seen a whole assembly burst into raptures of applause at a
happy period: for the ear naturally expects that our sentences should be
properly tuned and measured. This, however, is an accomplishment which is
not to be met with among the ancients. But to compensate the want of it,
they had almost every other perfection: for they had a happy choice of
words, and abounded in pithy and agreeable sentiments, though they had not
the art of harmonizing and completing their periods. This, say some, is
the very thing we admire. But what if they should take it into their heads
to prefer the ancient _peinture_, with all its poverty of colouring, to
the rich and finished style of the moderns? The former, I suppose, must be
again adopted, to compliment their delicacy, and the latter rejected. But
these pretended connoisseurs regard nothing but the mere _name_ of
antiquity. It must, indeed, be owned that antiquity has an equal claim to
authority in matters of imitation, as grey hairs in the precedence of age.
I myself have as great a veneration for it as any man: nor do I so much
upbraid antiquity with her defects, as admire the beauties she was
mistress of:--especially as I judge the latter to be of far greater
consequence than the former. For there is certainly more real merit in a
masterly choice of words and sentiments, in which the ancients are allowed
to excell, than in those measured periods with which they were totally
unacquainted. This species of composition was not known among the Romans
till lately: but the ancients, I believe, would readily have adopted it,
if it had then been discovered: and we accordingly find, that it is now
made use of by all Orators of reputation. "But when _number_, or (as the
Greeks call it) prosaic _metre_, is professedly introduced into judicial
and forensic discourses, the very name, say they, has a suspicious sound:
for people will conclude that there is too much artifice employed to sooth
and captivate their ears, when the Speaker is so over-exact as to attend
to the harmony of his periods." Relying upon the force of this objection,
these pretenders are perpetually grating our ears with their broken and
mutilated sentences; and censure those, without mercy, who have the
presumption to utter an agreeable and a well-turned period. If, indeed, it
was our design to spread a varnish over empty words and trifling
sentiments, the censure would be just: but when the matter is good, and
the words are proper and expressive, what reason can be assigned why we
should prefer a limping and imperfect period to one which terminates and
keeps pace with the sense? For this invidious and persecuted _metre_ aims
at nothing more than to adapt the compass of our words to that of our
thoughts; which is sometimes done even by the ancients,--though generally,
I believe, by mere accident, and often by the natural delicacy of the ear;
and the very passages which are now most admired in them, commonly derive
their merit from the agreeable and measured flow of the language.

This is an art which was in common use among the Greek Orators, about four
hundred years ago, though it has been but lately introduced among the
Romans. Ennius, therefore, when he ridicules the inharmonious numbers of
his predecessors, might be allowed to say,

"_Such verses as the rustic Bards and Satyrs sung_:"

But I must not take the same liberty; especially as I cannot say with him,

_Before this bold adventurer_, &c.

(meaning himself:) nor, as he afterwards exults to the same purpose,

_I first have dar'd t'unfold_, &c.

for I have both read and heard several who were almost complete masters of
the numerous and measured style I am speaking of: But many, who are still
absolute strangers to it, are not content to be exempted from the ridicule
they deserve, but claim a right to our warmest applause. I must own,
indeed, that I admire the venerable patterns, of which those persons
pretend to be the faithful imitators, notwithstanding the defects I
observe in them: but I can by no means commend the folly of those who copy
nothing but their blemishes, and have no pretensions even to the most
distant resemblance in what is truly excellent.

But if their own ears are so indelicate and devoid of taste, will they pay
no deference to the judgment of others, who are universally celebrated for
their learning? I will not mention _Isocrates_, and his two scholars,
_Ephorus_ and _Naucrates_; though they may claim the honour of giving the
richest precepts of composition, and were themselves very eminent Orators.
But who was possessed of a more ample fund of erudition?--who more subtle
and acute?--or who furnished with quicker powers of invention, and a
greater strength of understanding, than _Aristotle_? I may add, who made a
warmer opposition to the rising fame of _Isocrates_? And yet _he_, though
he forbids us to versify in prose, recommends the use of _numbers_. His
hearer _Theodectes_ (whom he often mentions as a polished writer, and an
excellent artist) both approves and advises the same thing: and
_Theophrastus_ is still more copious and explicit. Who, then, can have
patience with those dull and conceited humourists, who dare to oppose
themselves to such venerable names as these? The only excuse that can be
made for them is, that they have never perused their writings, and are
therefore ignorant that they actually recommend the prosaic _metre_ we are
speaking of. If this is the case with them (and I cannot think otherwise)
will they reject the evidence of their own sensations? Is there nothing
which their ears will inform them is defective?--nothing which is harsh
and unpolished?--nothing imperfect?--nothing lame and mutilated?--nothing
redundant? In dramatic performances, a whole theatre will exclaim against
a verse which has only a syllable either too short or too long: and yet
the bulk of an audience are unacquainted with _feet_ and _numbers_, and
are totally ignorant what the fault is, and where it lies: but Nature
herself has taught the ear to measure the quantity of sound, and determine
the propriety of its various accents, whether grave, or acute.

Do you desire, then, my Brutus, that we should discuss the subject more
fully than those writers who have already elucidated this, and the other
parts of rhetoric? Or shall we content ourselves with the instructions
which _they_ have provided for us? But wherefore do I offer such a
question, when your elegant letters have informed me, that this is the
chief object of your request? We shall proceed, therefore, to give an
account of the commencement, the origin, and the nature and use of
_prosaic numbers_.

The admirers of Isocrates place the first invention of numbers among those
other improvements which do honour to his memory. For observing, say they,
that the Orators were heard with a kind of sullen attention, while the
Poets were listened to with pleasure, he applied himself to introduce a
species of metre into prose, which might have a pleasing effect upon the
ear, and prevent that satiety which will always arise from a continued
uniformity of sound. This, however, is partly true, and partly otherwise;
for though it must be owned that no person was better skilled in the
subject than _Isocrates_; yet the first honour of the invention belongs to
_Thrasymachus_, whose style (in all his writings which are extant) is
_numerous_ even to a fault. But _Gorgias_, as I have already remarked, was
the original inventor of those measured forms of expression which have a
kind of spontaneous harmony,--such as a regular succession of words with
the same termination, and the comparing similar, or contracting opposite
circumstances: though it is also notoriously true that he used them to
excess. This, however, is one of the three branches of composition above-
mentioned. But each of these authors was prior to _Isocrates_: so that the
preference can be due to _him_ only for his _moderate use_, and not for
the _invention_ of the art: for as he is certainly much easier in the turn
of his metaphors, and the choice of his words, so his numbers are more
composed and sedate. But _Gorgias_, he observed, was too eager, and
indulged himself in this measured play of words to a ridiculous excess.
He, therefore, endeavoured to moderate and correct it; but not till he had
first studied in his youth under the same _Gorgias_, who was then in
Thessaly, and in the last decline of life. Nay, as he advanced in years
(for he lived almost a hundred) he corrected _himself_, and gradually
relaxed the over-strict regularity of his numbers; as he particularly
informs us in the treatise which he dedicated to Philip of Macedon, in the
latter part of his life; for he there says, that he had thrown off that
servile attention to his numbers, to which he was before accustomed:--so
that he discovered and corrected his _own_ faults, as well as those of his
predecessors.

Having thus specified the several authors and inventors, and the first
commencement of prosaic harmony, we must next enquire what was the natural
source and origin of it. But this lies so open to observation, that I am
astonished the ancients did not notice it: especially as they often, by
mere accident, threw out harmonious and measured sentences, which, when
they had struck the ears and the passions with so much force, as to make
it obvious that there was something particularly agreeable in what chance
alone had uttered, one would imagine that such a singular species of
ornament would have been immediately attended to, and that they would have
taken the pains to imitate what they found so pleasing in themselves. For
the ear, or at least the mind by the intervention of the ear, has a
natural capacity to measure the harmony of language: and we accordingly
feel that it instantly determines what is either too short or too long,
and always expects to be gratified with that which is complete and well-

Book of the day: