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

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for a strict adherence to the letter of a testament? and with what
emphasis did he enlarge upon the necessity of supporting the common forms
of law? All which particulars he discussed not only very artfully, and
skilfully; but in such a neat,--such a close,--and, I may add, in so
florid, and so elegant a style, that there was not a single person among
the common part of the audience, who could expect any thing more complete,
or even think it possible to exist. But when Crassus, who spoke on the
opposite side, began with the story of a notable youth, who having found a
cock-boat as he was rambling along the shore, took it into his head
immediately that he would build a ship to it;--and when he applied the
tale to Scaevola, who, from the cock-boat of an argument [which he had
deduced from certain imaginary ill consequences to the Public] represented
the decision of a private will to be a matter of such importance as to
deserve he attention of the _Centum-viri_;--when Crassus, I say, in the
beginning of his discourse, had thus taken off the edge of the strongest
plea of his antagonist, he entertained his hearers with many other turns
of a similar kind; and, in a short time, changed the serious apprehensions
of all who were present into open mirth and good-humour; which is one of
those three effects which I have just observed an Orator should be able to
produce. He then proceeded to remark that it was evidently the intention
and the will of the testator, that in cafe, either by death, or default of
issue, there should happen to be no son to fall to his charge, the
inheritance should devolve to Curius:--'that most people in a similar case
would express themselves in the same manner, and that it would certainly
stand good in law, and always had. By these, and many other observations
of the same kind, he gained the assent of his hearers; which is another of
the three duties of an Orator. Lastly, he supported, at all events, the
true meaning and spirit of a will, against the literal construction:
justly observing, that there would be an endless cavilling about words,
not only in wills, but in all other legal deeds, if the real intention of
the party was to be disregarded: and hinting very smartly, that his
friend Scaevola had assumed a most unwarrantable degree of importance, if
no person must afterwards presume to indite a legacy, but in the musty
form which he himself might please to prescribe. As he enlarged on each of
these arguments with great force and propriety, supported them by a number
of precedents, exhibited them in a variety of views, and enlivened them
with many occasional turns of wit and pleasantry, he gained so much
applause, and gave such general satisfaction, that it was scarcely
remembered that any thing had been said on the contrary side of the
question. This was the third, and the most important duty we assigned to
an Orator.

"Here, if one of the people was to be judge, the same person who had heard
the first Speaker with a degree of admiration, would, on hearing the
second, despise himself for his former want of judgment:--whereas a man of
taste and erudition, on hearing Scaevola, would have observed that he was
really master of a rich and ornamental style; but if, on comparing the
manner in which each of them concluded his cause, it was to be enquired
which of the two was the best Orator, the decision of the man of learning
would not have differed from that of the vulgar. What advantage, then, it
will be said, has the skilful critic over the illiterate hearer? A great
and very important advantage; if it is indeed a matter of any consequence,
to be able to discover by what means that which is the true and real end
of speaking, is either obtained or lost. He has likewise this additional
superiority, that when two or more Orators, as has frequently happened,
have shared the applauses of the Public, he can judge, on a careful
observation of the principal merits of each, what is the most perfect
character of Eloquence: since whatever does not meet the approbation of
the people, must be equally condemned by a more intelligent hearer. For as
it is easily understood by the sound of a harp, whether the strings are
skilfully touched; so it may likewise be discovered from the manner in
which the passions of an audience are affected, how far the Speaker is
able to command them. A man, therefore, who is a real connoisseur in the
art, can sometimes by a single glance as he passes through the Forum, and
without stopping to listen attentively to what is said, form a tolerable
judgment of the ability of the Speaker. When he observes any of the Bench
either yawning, or speaking to the person who is next to him, or looking
carelessly about him, or sending to enquire the time of day, or teazing
the Quaestor to dismiss the court; he concludes very naturally that the
cause upon trial is not pleaded by an Orator who understands how to apply
the powers of language to the passions of the judges, as a skilful
musician applies his fingers to the harp. On the other hand, if, as he
passes by, he beholds the judges looking attentively before them, as if
they were either receiving some material information, or visibly approved
what they had already heard--if he sees them listening to the voice of the
Pleader with a kind of extasy like a fond bird to some melodious tune;--
and, above all, if he discovers in their looks any strong indications of
pity, abhorrence, or any other emotion of the mind;--though he should not
be near enough to hear a single word, he immediately discovers that the
cause is managed by a real Orator, who is either performing, or has
already played his part to good purpose."

After I had concluded these digressive remarks, my two friends were kind
enough to signify their approbation, and I resumed my subject.--"As this
digression," said I, "took its rise from Cotta and Sulpicius, whom I
mentioned as the two most approved Orators of the age they lived in, I
shall first return to _them,_ and afterwards notice the rest in their
proper order, according to the plan we began upon. I have already observed
that there are two classes of _good_ Orators (for we have no concern with
any others) of which the former are distinguished by the simple neatness
and brevity of their language, and the latter by their copious dignity and
elevation: but although the preference must always be given to that which
is great and striking; yet, in speakers of real merit, whatever is most
perfect of the kind, is justly entitled to our commendation. It must,
however, be observed, that the close and simple Orator should be careful
not to sink into a driness and poverty of expression; while, on the other
hand, the copious and more stately Speaker should be equally on his guard
against a swelling and empty parade of words.

"To begin with Cotta, he had a ready, quick Invention, and spoke correctly
and freely; and as he very prudently avoided every forcible exertion of
his voice on account of the weakness of his lungs, so his language was
equally adapted to the delicacy of his constitution. There was nothing in
his style but what was neat, compact, and healthy; and (what may justly be
considered as his greatest excellence) though he was scarcely able, and
therefore never attempted to force the passions of the judges by a strong
and spirited elocution, yet he managed them so artfully, that the gentle
emotions he raised in them, answered exactly the same purpose, and
produced the same effect, as the violent ones which were excited by
Sulpicius. For Sulpicius was really the most striking, and, if I may be
allowed the expression, the most tragical Orator I ever heard:--his voice
was strong and sonorous, and yet sweet, and flowing:--his gesture, and the
sway of his body, was graceful and ornamental, but in such a style as to
appear to have been formed for the Forum, and not for the stage:--and his
language, though rapid and voluble, was neither loose nor exuberant. He
was a professed imitator of Crassus, while Cotta chose Antonius for his
model: but the latter wanted the force of Antonius, and the former the
agreeable humour of Crassus."--"How extremely difficult, then," said
Brutus, "must be the art of speaking, when such consummate Orators as
these were each of them destitute of one of its principal beauties!"--"We
may likewise observe," said I, "in the present instance, that two Orators
may have the highest degree of merit, who are totally unlike each other:
for none could be more so than Cotta and Sulpicius, and yet both of them
were far superior to any of their cotemporaries. It is therefore the
business of every intelligent matter to take notice what is the natural
bent of his pupil's capacity; and, taking that for his guide, to imitate
the conduct of Socrates with his two scholars Theopompus and Ephorus, who,
after remarking the lively genius of the former, and the mild and timid
bashfulness of the latter, is reported to have said that he applied a spur
to the one, and a curb to the other. The Orations now extant, which bear
the name of Sulpicius, are supposed to have been written after his decease
by my cotemporary P. Canutius, a man indeed of inferior rank, but who, in
my mind, had a great command of language. But we have not a single speech
of Sulpicius that was really his own: for I have often heard him say, that
he neither had, nor ever could commit any thing of the kind to writing.
And as to Cotta's speech in defence of himself, called a vindication of
the _Varian Law_, it was composed, at his own request, by L. Aelius. This
Aelius was a man of merit, and a very worthy Roman knight, who was
thoroughly versed in the Greek and Roman literature. He had likewise a
critical knowledge of the antiquities of his country, both as to the date
and particulars of every new improvement, and every memorable transaction,
and was perfectly well read in the ancient writers;--a branch of learning
in which he was succeeded by our friend Varro, a man of genius, and of the
most extensive erudition, who afterwards enlarged the plan by many
valuable collections of his own, and gave a much fuller and more elegant
system of it to the Public. For Aelius himself chose to assume the
character of a Stoic, and neither aimed to be, nor ever was an Orator: but
he composed several Orations for other people to pronounce; as for Q.
Metellus, F. Q. Caepio, and Q. Pompeius Rufus; though the latter composed
those speeches himself which he spoke in his own defence, but not without
the assistance of Aelius. For I myself was present at the writing of them,
in the younger part of my life, when I used to attend Aelius for the
benefit of his instructions. But I am surprised, that Cotta, who was
really an excellent Orator, and a man of good learning, should be willing
that the trifling Speeches of Aelius mould be published to the world as

"To the two above-mentioned, no third person of the same age was esteemed
an equal: Pomponius, however, was a Speaker much to my taste; or, at
least, I have very little fault to find with him. But there was no
employment for any in capital causes, excepting for those I have already
mentioned; because Antonius, who was always courted on these occasions,
was very ready to give his service; and Crassus, though not so compliable,
generally consented, on any pressing sollicitation, to give _his_. Those
who had not interest enough to engage either of these, commonly applied to
Philip, or Caesar; but when Cotta and Sulpicius were at liberty, they
generally had the preference: so that all the causes in which any honour
was to be acquired, were pleaded by these six Orators. We may add, that
trials were not so frequent then as they are at present; neither did
people employ, as they do now, several pleaders on the same side of the
question,--a practice which is attended with many disadvantages. For
hereby we are often obliged to speak in reply to those whom we had not an
opportunity of hearing; in which case, what has been alledged on the
opposite side, is often represented to us either falsely or imperfectly;
and besides, it is a very material circumstance, that I myself should be
present to see with what countenance my antagonist supports his
allegations, and, still more so, to observe the effect of every part of
his discourse upon the audience. And as every defence should be conducted
upon one uniform plan, nothing can be more improperly contrived, than to
re-commence it by assigning the peroration, or pathetical part of it, to a
second advocate. For every cause can have but one natural introduction and
conclusion; and all the other parts of it, like the members of an animal
body, will best retain their proper strength and beauty, when they are
regularly disposed and connected. We may add, that as it is very difficult
in a single Oration of any length, to avoid saying something which does
not comport with the rest of it so well as it ought to do, how much more
difficult must it be to contrive that nothing shall be said, which does
not tally exactly with the speech of another person who has spoken before
you? But as it certainly requires more labour to plead a whole cause, than
only a part of it, and as many advantageous connections are formed by
assisting in a suit in which several persons are interested, the custom,
however preposterous in itself, has been readily adopted.

"There were some, however, who esteemed Curio the third best Orator of the
age; perhaps, because his language was brilliant and pompous, and because
he had a habit (for which I suppose he was indebted to his domestic
education) of expressing himself with tolerable correctness: for he was a
man of very little learning. But it is a circumstance of great importance,
what sort of people we are used to converse with at home, especially in
the more early part of life; and what sort of language we have been
accustomed to hear from our tutors and parents, not excepting the mother.
We have all read the Letters of Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi; and
are satisfied, that her sons were not so much nurtured in their mother's
lap, as in the elegance and purity of her language. I have often too
enjoyed the agreeable conversation of Laelia, the daughter of Caius, and
observed in her a strong tincture of her father's elegance. I have
likewise conversed with his two daughters, the Muciae, and his
granddaughters, the two Liciniae, with one of whom (the wife of Scipio)
you, my Brutus, I believe, have sometimes been in company."--"I have,"
replied he, "and was much pleased with her conversation; and the more so,
because she was the daughter of Crassus."--"And what think you," said I,
"of Crassus, the son of that Licinia, who was adopted by Crassus in his
will?"--"He is said," replied he, "to have been a man of great genius: and
the Scipio you have mentioned, who was my colleague, likewise appears to
me to have been a good Speaker, and an elegant companion."--"Your opinion,
my Brutus," said I, "is very just. For this family, if I may be allowed
the expression, seems to have been the offspring of Wisdom. As to their
two grandfathers, Scipio and Crassus, we have taken notice of them
already: as we also have of their great grandfathers, Q. Metellus, who had
four sons,--P. Scipio, who, when a private citizen, freed the Republic
from the arbitrary influence of T. Gracchus,--and Q. Scaevola, the augur,
who was the ablest and most affable Civilian of his time. And lastly, how
illustrious are the names of their next immediate progenitors, P. Scipio,
who was twice Consul, and was called the Darling of the People,--and C.
Laelius, who was esteemed the wisest of men?"--"A generous stock indeed!"
cries Brutus, "into which the wisdom of many has been successively
ingrafted, like a number of scions on the same tree!"--"I have likewise a
suspicion," replied I, "(if we may compare small things with great) that
Curio's family, though he himself was left an orphan, was indebted to his
father's instruction, and good example, for the habitual purity of their
language: and so much the more, because, of all those who were held in any
estimation for their Eloquence, I never knew one who was so totally rude
and unskilled in every branch of liberal science. He had not read a single
poet, or studied a single orator; and he knew little or nothing either of
Public, Civil, or Common law. We might say almost the same, indeed, of
several others, and some of them very able Orators, who (we know) were but
little acquainted with these useful parts of knowledge; as, for instance,
of Sulpicius and Antonius. But this deficiency was supplied in them by an
elaborate knowledge of the art of Speaking; and there was not one of them
who was totally unqualified in any of the five [Footnote: Invention,
Disposition, Elocution, Memory, and Pronunciation.] principal parts of
which it is composed; for whenever this is the case, (and it matters not
in which of those parts it happens) it intirely incapacitates a man to
shine as an Orator. Some, however, excelled in one part, and some in
another. Thus Antonius could readily invent such arguments as were most in
point, and afterwards digest and methodize them to the best advantage; and
he could likewise retain the plan he had formed with great exactness: but
his chief merit was the goodness of his delivery, in which he was justly
allowed to excel. In some of these qualifications he was upon an equal
footing with Crassus, and in others he was superior: but then the language
of Crassus was indisputably preferable to _his_. In the same manner, it
cannot be said that either Sulpicius or Cotta, or any other Speaker of
repute, was absolutely deficient in any one of the five parts of Oratory.
But we may justly infer from the example of Curio, that nothing will more
recommend an Orator, than a brilliant and ready flow of expression; for he
was remarkably dull in the invention, and very loose and unconnected in
the disposition of his arguments. The two remaining parts are
Pronunciation and Memory; in each of which he was so poorly qualified, as
to excite the laughter and the ridicule of his hearers. His gesture was
really such as C. Julius represented it, in a severe sarcasm, that will
never be forgotten; for as he was swaying and reeling his whole body from
side to side, Julius enquired very merrily, _who it was that was speaking
from a boat_. To the same purpose was the jest of Cn. Sicinius, a very
vulgar sort of man, but exceedingly humourous, which was the only
qualification he had to recommend him as an Orator. When this man, as
Tribune of the people, had summoned Curio and Octavius, who were then
Consuls, into the Forum, and Curio had delivered a tedious harangue, while
Octavius sat silently by him, wrapt up in flannels, and besmeared with
ointments, to ease the pain of the gout;"--"_Octavius," said he, "you are
infinitely obliged to your colleague; for if he had not tossed and flung
himself about to-day, in the manner he did, you would have certainly have
been devoured by the flies._"--"As to his memory, it was so extremely
treacherous, that after he had divided his subject into three general
heads, he would sometimes, in the course of speaking, either add a fourth,
or omit the third. In a capital trial, in which I had pleaded for Titinia,
the daughter of Cotta, when he attempted to reply to me in defence of
Serv. Naevius, he suddenly forgot every thing he had intended to say, and
attributed it to the pretended witchcraft, and magic artifices of Titinia.
These were undoubted proofs of the weakness of his memory. But, what is
still more inexcusable, he sometimes forgot, even in his written
treatises, what he had mentioned but a little before. Thus, in a book of
his, in which he introduces himself as entering into conversation with our
friend Pansa, and his son Curio, when he was walking home from the Senate-
house; the Senate is supposed to have been summoned by Caesar in his first
Consulship; and the whole conversation arises from the son's enquiry what
the House had resolved upon. Curio launches out into a long invective
against the conduct of Caesar, and, as is generally the custom in
dialogues, the parties are engaged in a close dispute on the subject: but
very unhappily, though the conversation commences at the breaking up of
the Senate which Caesar held when he was first Consul, the author censures
those very actions of the same Caesar, which did not happen till the next,
and several other succeeding years of his government in Gaul."--"Is it
possible then," said Brutus, with an air of surprize, "that any man, (and
especially in a written performance) could be so forgetful as not to
discover, upon a subsequent perusal of his own work, what an egregious
blunder he had committed?"--"Very true," said I; "for if he wrote with a
design to discredit the measures which he represents in such an odious
light, nothing could be more stupid than not to commence his dialogue at a
period which was subsequent to those measures. But he so entirely forgets
himself, as to tell us, that he did not choose to attend a Senate which
was held in one of Caesar's future consulships, in the very same dialogue
in which he introduces himself as returning home from a Senate which was
held in his first consulship. It cannot, therefore, be wondered at, that
he who was so remarkably defective in a faculty which is the steward of
our other intellectual powers, as to forget, even in a written treatise, a
material circumstance which he had mentioned but a little before, should
find his memory fail him, as it generally did, in a sudden and
unpremeditated harangue. It accordingly happened, though he had many
connections, and was fond of speaking in public, that few causes were
intrusted to his management. But, among his cotemporaries, he was esteemed
next in merit to the first Orators of the age; and that merely, as I said
before, for his good choice of words, and his uncommon readiness, and
great fluency of expression. His Orations, therefore, may deserve a
cursory perusal. It is true, indeed, they are much too languid and
spiritless; but they may yet be of service to enlarge and improve an
accomplishment, of which he certainly had a moderate share; and which has
so much force and efficacy, that it gave Curio the appearance and
reputation of an Orator, without the assistance of any other good quality.

"But to return to our subject,--C. Carbo, of the same age, was likewise
reckoned an Orator of the second class: he was the son, indeed, of the
truly eloquent man before-mentioned, but was far from being an acute
Speaker himself: he was, however, esteemed an Orator. His language was
tolerably nervous, he spoke with ease,--and there was an air of authority
in his address that was perfectly natural. But Q. Varius was a man of
quicker invention, and, at the same time, had an equal freedom of
expression: besides which, he had a bold and spirited delivery, and a vein
of elocution which was neither poor, nor coarse and vulgar;--in short, you
need not hesitate to pronounce him an _Orator_. Cn. Pomponius was a
vehement, a rousing, and a fierce and eager Speaker, and more inclined to
act the part of a prosecutor, than of an advocate. But far inferior to
these was L. Fufius; though his application was, in some measure, rewarded
by the success of his prosecution against M. Aquilius. For as to M.
Drusus, your great uncle, who spoke like an Orator only upon matters of
government;--L. Lucullus, who was indeed an artful Speaker, and your
father, my Brutus, who was well acquainted with the Common and Civil Law;
--M. Lucullus, and M. Octavius, the son of Cnaeus, who was a man of so
much authority and address, as to procure the repeal of Sempronius's
corn-act, by the suffrages of a full assembly of the people;--Cn.
Octavius, the son of Marcus,--and M. Cato, the father, and Q. Catulus,
the son;--we must excuse these (if I may so express myself) from the
fatigues and dangers of the field,--that is, from the management of
judicial causes, and place them in garison over the general interests
of the Republic, a duty to which they seem to have been sufficiently
adequate. I should have assigned the same post to Q. Caepio, if he
had not been so violently attached to the Equestrian Order, as to set
himself at variance with the Senate. I have also remarked, that Cn.
Carbo, M. Marius, and several others of the same stamp, who would
not have merited the attention of an audience that had any taste for
elegance, were extremely well suited to address a tumultuous crowd.
In the same class, (if I may be allowed to interrupt the series of
my narrative) L. Quintius lately made his appearance: though Palicanus,
it must be owned, was still better adapted to please the ears of the
populace. But, as I have mentioned this inferior kind of Speakers,
I must be so just to L. Apuleius Saturninus, as to observe that, of all
the factious declaimers since the time of the Gracchi, he was generally
esteemed the ablest: and yet he caught the attention of the Public, more
by his appearance, his gesture, and his dress, than by any real fluency of
expression, or even a tolerable share of good sense. But C. Servilius
Glaucia, though the most abandoned wretch that ever existed, was very keen
and artful, and excessively humourous; and notwithstanding the meanness of
his birth, and the depravity of his life, he would have been advanced to
the dignity of a Consul in his Praetorship, if it had been judged lawful
to admit his suit: for the populace were entirely at his devotion, and he
had secured the interest of the Knights, by an act he had procured in
their favour. He was slain in the open Forum, while he was Praetor, on the
same day as the tribune Saturninus, in the Consulship of Marius and
Flaccus; and bore a near resemblance to Hyperbolus, the Athenian, whose
profligacy was so severely stigmatized in the old Attic Comedies. These
were succeeded by Sext. Titius, who was indeed a voluble Speaker, and
possessed a ready comprehension, but he was so loose and effeminate in his
gesture, as to furnish room for the invention of a dance, which was called
the _Titian jigg_: so careful should we be to avoid every oddity in our
manner of speaking, which may afterwards be exposed to ridicule by a
ludicrous imitation.

"But we have rambled back insensibly to a period which has been already
examined: let us, therefore, return to that which we were reviewing a
little before. Cotemporary with Sulpicius was P. Antistius,--a plausible
declaimer, who, after being silent for several years, and exposed, (as he
often was) not only to the contempt, but the derision of his hearers,
first spoke with applause in his tribuneship, in a real and very
interesting protest against the illegal application of C. Julius for the
consulship; and that so much the more, because though Sulpicius himself,
who then happened to be his colleague, spoke on the same side of the
debate, Antistius argued more copiously, and to better purpose. This
raised his reputation so high, that many, and (soon afterwards) every
cause of importance, was eagerly recommended to his patronage. To speak
the truth, he had a quick conception, a methodical judgment, and a
retentive memory; and though his language was not much embellished, it was
very far from being low. In short, his style was easy, and flowing, and
his appearance rather genteel than otherwise: but his action was a little
defective, partly through the disagreeable tone of his voice, and partly
by a few ridiculous gestures, of which he could not entirely break
himself. He flourished in the time between the flight and the return of
Sylla, when the Republic was deprived of a regular administration of
justice, and of its former dignity and splendor. But the very favourable
reception he met with was, in some measure, owing to the great scarcity of
good Orators which then prevailed in the Forum. For Sulpicius was dead;
Cotta and Curio were abroad; and no pleaders of any eminence were left but
Carbo and Pomponius, from each of whom he easily carried off the palm. His
nearest successor in the following age was L. Sisenna, who was a man of
learning, had a taste for the liberal Sciences, spoke the Roman language
with accuracy, was well acquainted with the laws and constitution of his
country, and had a tolerable share of wit; but he was not a Speaker of any
great application, or extensive practice; and as he happened to live in
the intermediate time between the appearance of Sulpicius and Hortensius,
he was unable to equal the former, and forced to yield to the superior
talents of the latter. We may easily form a judgment of his abilities from
the historical Works he has left behind him; which, though evidently
preferable to any thing of the kind which had appeared before, may serve
as a proof that he was far below the standard of perfection, and that this
species of composition had not then been improved to any great degree of
excellence among the Romans. But the genius of Q. Hortensius, even in his
early youth, like one of Phidias's statues, was no sooner beheld than it
was universally admired! He spoke his first Oration in the Forum in the
consulship of L. Crassus and Q. Scaevola, to whom it was personally
adressed; and though he was then only nineteen years old, he descended
from the Rostra with the hearty approbation not only of the audience in
general, but of the two Consuls themselves, who were the most intelligent
judges in the whole city. He died in the consulship of L. Paulus and C.
Marcellus; from which it appears that he was four-and-forty years a
Pleader. We shall review his character more at large in the sequel: but in
this part of my history, I chose to include him in the number of Orators
who were rather of an earlier date. This indeed must necessarily happen to
all whose lives are of any considerable length: for they are equally
liable to a comparison with their Elders and their Juniors; as in the case
of the poet Attius, who says that both he and Pacuvius applied themselves
to the cultivation of the drama under the fame Aediles; though, at the
time, the one was eighty, and the other only thirty years old. Thus
Hortensius may be paralleled not only with those who were properly his
contemporaries, but with me, and you, my Brutus, and with others of a
prior date. For he began to speak in public while Crassus was living but
his fame increased when he appeared as a joint advocate with Antonius and
Philip (at that time in the decline of life) in defence of Cn. Pompeius,--
a cause in which (though a mere youth) he distinguished himself above the
rest. He may therefore be included in the lift of those whom I have placed
in the time of Sulpicius; but among his proper coŽvals, such as M. Piso,
M. Crassus, Cn. Lentulus, and P. Lentulus Sura, he excelled beyond the
reach of competition; and after these he happened upon me, in the early
part of my life (for I was eight years younger than himself) and spent a
number of years with me in pursuit of the same forensic glory: and at
last, (a little before his death) he once pleaded with _you_, in defence
of Appius Claudius, as I have frequently done for others. Thus you see, my
Brutus, I am come insensibly to _yourself_, though there was undoubtedly a
great variety of Orators between my first appearance in the Forum, and
yours. But as I determined, when we began the conversation, to make no
mention of those among them who are still living, to prevent your
enquiring too minutely what is my opinion concerning each; I shall confine
myself to such as are now no more."--"That is not the true reason," said
Brutus, "why you choose to be silent about the living."--"What then do you
suppose it to be," said I?--"You are only fearful," replied he, "that your
remarks should afterwards be mentioned by us in other company, and that,
by this means, you should expose yourself to the resentment of those, whom
you may not think it worth your while to notice."--"Indeed," answered I,
"I have not the least doubt of your secresy."--"Neither have you any
reason," said he; "but after all, I suppose, you had rather be silent
_yourself_, than rely upon our taciturnity."--"To confess the truth,"
replied I, "when I first entered upon the subject, I never imagined that I
should have extended it to the age now before us; whereas I have been
drawn by a continued series of history among the moderns of latest date."
--"Introduce, then," said he, "those intermediate Orators you may think
worthy of our notice: and afterwards let us return to yourself, and
Hortensius."--"To Hortensius," replied I, "with all my heart; but as to my
_own_ character, I shall leave it to other people to examine, if they
choose to take the trouble."--"I can by no means agree to _that_," said
he: "for though every part of the account you have favoured us with, has
entertained me very agreeably, it now begins to seem tedious, because I am
impatient to hear something of _yourself_: I do not mean the wonderful
qualities, but the _progressive steps_, and advances of your Eloquence;
for the former are sufficiently known already both to me, and the whole
world."--"As you do not require me," said I, "to sound the praises of my
own genius, but only to describe my labour and application to improve it,
your request shall be complied with. But to preserve the order of my
narrative, I shall first introduce such other Speakers as I think ought to
be previously noticed: and I shall begin with M. Crassus, who was
contemporary with Hortensius. With a tolerable share of learning, and a
very moderate capacity, his application, assiduity, and interest, procured
him a place among the ablest Pleaders of the time for several years. His
language was pure, his expression neither low nor ungenteel, and his ideas
well digested: but he had nothing in him that was florid, and ornamental;
and the real ardor of his mind was not supported by any vigorous exertion
of his voice, so that he pronounced almost every thing in the same uniform
tone. His equal, and professed antagonist C. Fimbria was not able to
maintain his character so long; and though he always spoke with a strong
and elevated voice, and poured forth a rapid torrent of well-chosen
expressions, he was so immoderately vehement that you might justly be
surprised that the people should have been so absent and inattentive as to
admit a _madman_, like him, into the lift of Orators. As to Cn. Lentulus,
his action acquired him a reputation for his Eloquence very far beyond his
real abilities: for though he was not a man of any great penetration
(notwithstanding he carried the appearance of it in his countenance) nor
possessed any real fluency of expression (though he was equally specious
in this respect as in the former)--yet by his sudden breaks, and
exclamations, he affected such an ironical air of surprize, with a sweet
and sonorous turn of voice, and his whole action was so warm and lively,
that his defects were scarcely noticed. For as Curio acquired the
reputation of an Orator with no other quality than a tolerable freedom of
Elocution; so Cn. Lentulus concealed the mediocrity of his other
accomplishments by his _action_, which was really excellent. Much the same
might be said of P. Lentulus, whose poverty of invention and expression
was secured from notice by the mere dignity of his presence, his correct
and graceful gesture, and the strength and sweetness of his voice: and his
merit depended so entirely upon his action, that he was more deficient in
every other quality than his namesake. But M. Piso derived all his talents
from his erudition; for he was much better versed in the Grecian
literature than any of his predecessors. He had, however, a natural
keenness of discernment, which he greatly improved by art, and exerted
with great address and dexterity, though in very indifferent language: but
he was frequently warm and choleric, sometimes cold and insipid, and now
and then rather smart and humourous. He did not long support the fatigue,
and emulous contention of the Forum; partly, on account of the weakness of
his constitution; and partly, because he could not submit to the follies
and impertinencies of the common people (which we Orators are forced to
swallow) either, as it was generally supposed, from a peculiar moroseness
of temper, or from a liberal and ingenuous pride of heart. After
acquiring, therefore, in his youth, a tolerable degree of reputation, his
character began to sink: but in the trial of the Vestals, he again
recovered it with some additional lustre, and being thus recalled to the
theatre of Eloquence, he kept his rank, as long as he was able to support
the fatigue of it; after which his credit declined, in proportion as he
remitted his application.--P. Murena had a moderate genius, but was
passionately fond of the study of Antiquity; he applied himself with equal
diligence to the Belles Lettres, in which he was tolerably versed; in
short, he was a man of great industry, and took the utmost pains to
distinguish himself.--C. Censorinus had a good stock of Grecian
literature, explained whatever he advanced with great neatness and
perspicuity, and had a graceful action, but was too cold and unanimated
for the Forum.--L. Turius with a very indifferent genius, but the most
indefatigable application, spoke in public very often, in the best manner
he was able; and, accordingly, he only wanted the votes of a few Centuries
to promote him to the Consulship.--C. Macer was never a man of much
interest or authority, but was one of the most active Pleaders of his
time; and if his life, his manners, and his very looks, had not ruined the
credit of his genius, he would have ranked higher in the lift of Orators.
He was neither copious, nor dry and barren; neither eat and embellished,
nor wholly inelegant; and his voice, his gesture, and every part of his
action, was without any grace: but in inventing and digesting his ideas,
he had a wonderful accuracy, such as no man I ever saw either possessed
or exerted in a more eminent degree; and yet, some how, he displayed it
rather with the air of a Quibbler, than of an Orator. Though he had
acquired some reputation in public causes, he appeared to most advantage
and was most courted and employed in private ones.--C. Piso, who comes
next in order, had scarcely any exertion, but he was a Speaker of a very
convertible style; and though, in fact, he was far from being slow of
invention, he had more penetration in his look and appearance than he
really possessed.--His cotemporary M. Glabrio, though carefully instructed
by his grandfather Scaevola, was prevented from distinguishing himself by
his natural indolence and want of attention.--L. Torquatus, on the
contrary, had an elegant turn of expression, and a clear comprehension,
and was perfectly genteel and well-bred in his whole manner.--But Cn.
Pompeius, my coeval, a man who was born to excel in every thing, would
have acquired a more distinguished reputation for his Eloquence, if he had
not been diverted from the pursuit of it by the more dazzling charms of
military fame. His language was naturally bold and elevated, and he was
always master of his subject; and as to his powers of enunciation, his
voice was sonorous and manly, and his gesture noble, and full of dignity.
--D. Silanus, another of my cotemporaries, and your father-in-law, was not
a man of much application, but he had a very competent share of
discernment, and elocution.--Q. Pompeius, the son of Aulus, who had the
title of _Bithynicus_, and was about two years older than myself, was, to
my own knowledge, remarkably fond of the study of Eloquence, had an
uncommon stock of learning, and was a man of indefatigable industry and
perseverance: for he was connected with me and M. Piso, not only as an
intimate acquaintance, but as an associate in our studies, and private
exercises. His elocution was but poorly recommended by his action: for
though the former was sufficiently copious and diffusive, there was
nothing graceful in the latter.--His contemporary, P. Autronius, had a
very clear, and strong voice; but he was distinguished by no other
accomplishment.--L. Octavius Reatinus died in his youth, while he was in
full practice: but he ascended the rostra with more assurance, than
ability.--C. Staienus, who changed his name into Aelius by a kind of self-
adoption, was a warm, an abusive, and indeed a furious speaker; which was
so agreeable to the taste of many, that he would have risen to some rank
in the State, if it had not been for a crime of which he was clearly
convicted, and for which he afterwards suffered.--At the same time were
the two brothers C. and L. Caepasius, who, though men of an obscure
family, and little previous consequence, were yet, by mere dint of
application, suddenly promoted to the Quaestorship, with no other
recommendation than a provincial and unpolished kind of Oratory.--That I
may not seem to have put a wilful slight on any of the vociferous tribe, I
must also notice C. Cosconius Calidianus, who, without any discernment,
amused the people with a rapidity of language (if such it might be called)
which he attended with a perpetual hurry of action, and a most violent
exertion of his voice.--Of much the same cast was Q. Arrius, who may be
considered as a second-hand M. Crassus. He is a striking proof of what
consequence it is in such a city as ours to devote one's-self to the
occasions of _the many_, and to be as active as possible in promoting
their safety, or their honour. For by these means, though of the lowest
parentage, having raised himself to offices of rank, and to considerable
wealth and influence, he likewise acquired the reputation of a tolerable
patron, without either learning or abilities. But as inexperienced
champions, who, from a passionate desire to distinguish themselves in the
Circus, can bear the blows of their opponents without shrinking, are often
overpowered by the heat of the sun, when it is increased by the reflection
of the sand; so _he_, who had hitherto supported even the sharpest
encounters with good success, could not stand the severity of that year of
judicial contest, which blazed upon him like a summer's sun."

"Upon my word," cried Atticus, "you are now treating us with the very
_dregs_ of Oratory, and you have entertained us in this manner for some
time: but I did not offer to interrupt you, because I never dreamed you
would have descended so low as to mention the _Staieni_ and _Autronii_!"--
"As I have been speaking of the dead, you will not imagine, I suppose,"
said I, "that I have done it to court their favour: but in pursuing the
order of history, I was necessarily led by degrees to a period of time
which falls within the compass of our own knowledge. But I wish it to be
noticed, that after recounting all who ever ventured to speak in public,
we find but few, (very few indeed!) whose names are worth recording; and
not many who had even the repute of being Orators. Let us, however, return
to our subject. T. Torquatus, then, the son of Titus, was a man of
learning, (which he first acquired in the school of Molo in Rhodes,) and
of a free and easy elocution which he received from Nature. If he had
lived to a proper age, he would have been chosen Consul, without any
canvassing; but he had more ability for speaking than inclination; _so_
that, in fact, he did not do justice to the art he professed; and yet he
was never wanting to his duty, either in the private causes of his
friends and dependents, or in his senatorial capacity.--My townsman too,
P. Pontidius, pleaded a number of private causes. He had a rapidity of
expression, and a tolerable quickness of comprehension: but he was very
warm, and indeed rather too choleric and irascible; so that he often
wrangled not only with his antagonist, but (what appears very strange)
with the judge himself, whom it was rather his business to sooth and
gratify.--M. Messala, who was something younger than myself, was far from
being a poor and an abject Pleader, and yet he was not a very embellished
one. He was judicious, penetrating, and wary, very exact in digesting and
methodizing his subject, and a man of uncommon diligence and application,
and of very extensive practice.--As to the two Metelli (Celer and Nepos)
these also had a moderate share of employment at the bar; but being
destitute neither of learning nor abilities, they chiefly applied
themselves (and with some success) to debates of a more popular kind.--But
Caius Lentulus Marcellinus, who was never reckoned a bad Speaker, was
esteemed a very eloquent one in his Consulship. He wanted neither
sentiment, nor expression; his voice was sweet and sonorous; and he had a
sufficient stock of humour.--C. Memmius, the son of Lucius, was a perfect
adept in the _belles lettres_ of the Greeks; for he had an insuperable
disgust to the literature of the Romans. He was a neat and polished
Speaker, and had a sweet and harmonious turn of expression; but as he was
equally averse to every laborious effort either of the mind or the tongue,
his Eloquence declined in proportion as he lessened his application."--
"But I heartily wish," said Brutus, "that you would give us your opinion
of those Orators who are still living; or, if you are determined to say
nothing of the rest, there are two at least, (that is Caesar and
Marcellus, whom I have often heard you speak of with the highest
approbation) whose characters would give me as much entertainment as any
of those you have already specified."--"But why," answered I, "would you
expect that I would give you my opinion of men who are as well known to
yourself as to me?"--"Marcellus, indeed," replied he, "I am very well
acquainted with; but as to Caesar, I know little of _him_. For I have
_heard_ the former very often: but, by the time I was able to judge for
myself, the latter had set out for his province."--"Mighty well," said I;
"and what think you of him you have heard so often?"--"What else can I
think," replied he, "but that you will soon have an Orator, who will very
nearly resemble yourself?"--"If that is the case," answered I, "pray think
of him as favourably as you can." "I do," said he; "for he pleases me very
highly; and not without reason. He is absolutely master of his trade, and,
neglecting every other profession, has applied himself solely to _this_;
and, for that purpose, has persevered in the rigorous task of composing a
daily Essay in writing. His words are well chosen; his language is full
and copious; and every thing he says receives an additional ornament from
the graceful tone of his voice, and the dignity of his action. In short,
he is so compleat an Orator, that there is no quality I know of, in which
I can think him deficient. But he is still more to be admired, for being
able, in these unhappy times, (which are marked with a distress that, by
some cruel fatality, has overwhelmed us all) to console himself, as
opportunity offers, with the consciousness of his own integrity, and by
the frequent renewal of his literary pursuits. I saw him lately at
Mitylene; and then (as I have already hinted) I saw him a thorough man.
For though I had before discovered in him a strong resemblance of
yourself, the likeness was much improved, after he was enriched by the
instructions of your learned, and very intimate friend Cratippus."--
"Though I acknowledge," said I, "that I have listened with pleasure to
your Elogies on a very worthy man, for whom I have the warmest esteem,
they have led me insensibly to the recollection of our common miseries,
which our present conversation was intended to suspend. But I would
willingly hear what is Atticus's opinion of Caesar."--"Upon my word,"
replied Atticus, "you are wonderfully consistent with your plan, to say
nothing _yourself_ of the living: and indeed, if you was to deal with
_them_, as you already have with the _dead_, and say something of every
paltry fellow that occurs to your memory, you would plague us with
_Autronii_ and _Steiani_ without end. But though you might possibly have
it in view not to incumber yourself with such a numerous crowd of
insignificant wretches; or perhaps, to avoid giving any one room to
complain that he was either unnoticed, or not extolled according to his
imaginary merit; yet, certainly, you might have said something of Caesar;
especially, as your opinion of _his_ abilities is well known to every
body, and his concerning _your's_ is very far from being a secret. But,
however," said he, (addressing himself to Brutus) "I really think of
Caesar, and every body else says the same of this accurate connoisseur in
the Art of Speaking, that he has the purest and the most elegant command
of the Roman language of all the Orators that have yet appeared: and that
not merely by domestic habit, as we have lately heard it observed of the
families of the Laelii and the Mucii, (though even here, I believe, this
might partly have been the case) but he chiefly acquired and brought it to
its present perfection, by a studious application to the most intricate
and refined branches of literature, and by a careful and constant
attention to the purity of his style. But that _he_, who, involved as he
was in a perpetual hurry of business, could dedicate to _you_, my Cicero,
a laboured Treatise on the Art of Speaking correctly; that _he_, who, in
the first book of it, laid it down as an axiom, that an accurate choice of
words is the foundation of Eloquence; and who has bestowed," said he,
(addressing himself again to Brutus) "the highest encomiums on this friend
of ours, who yet chooses to leave Caesar's character to _me_;--that _he_
should be a perfect master of the language of polite conservation, is a
circumstance which is almost too obvious to be mentioned." "I said, _the
highest encomiums_," pursued Atticus, "because he says in so many words,
when he addresses himself to Cicero--_if others have bestowed all their
time and attention to acquire a habit of expressing themselves with ease
and correctness, how much is the name and dignity of the Roman people
indebted to you, who are the highest pattern, and indeed the first
inventor of that rich fertility of language which distinguishes your
performances?_"--Indeed," said Brutus, "I think he has extolled your merit
in a very friendly, and a very magnificent style: for you are not only the
_highest pattern_, and even the _first inventor_ of all our _fertility_ of
language, which alone is praise enough to content any reasonable man, but
you have added fresh honours to the name and dignity of the Roman people;
for the very excellence in which we had hitherto been conquered by the
vanquished Greeks, has now been either wrested from their hands, or
equally shared, at least, between us and them. So that I prefer this
honourable testimony of Caesar, I will not say to the public thanksgiving,
which was decreed for your _own_ military services, but to the triumphs of
many heroes."--"Very true," replied I, "provided this honourable testimony
was really the voice of Caesar's judgment, and not of his friendship: for
_he_ certainly has added more to the dignity of the Roman people, whoever
he may be (if indeed any such man has yet existed) who has not only
exemplified and enlarged, but first produced this rich fertility of
expression, than the doughty warrior who has stormed a few paltry castles
of the Ligurians, which have furnished us, you know, with many repeated
triumphs. In reality, if we can submit to hear the truth, it may be
asserted (to say nothing of those god-like plans, which, supported by the
wisdom of our Generals, has frequently saved the sinking State both abroad
and at home) that an Orator is justly entitled to the preference to any
Commander in a petty war. But the General, you will say, is the more
serviceable man to the public. Nobody denies it: and yet (for I am not
afraid of provoking your censure, in a conversation which leaves each of
us at liberty to say what he thinks) I had rather be the author of the
single Oration of Crassus, in defence of Curius, than be honoured with two
Ligurian triumphs. You will, perhaps, reply, that the storming a castle of
the Ligurians was a thing of more consequence to the State, than that the
claim of Curius should be ably supported. This I own to be true. But it
was also of more consequence to the Athenians, that their houses should be
securely roofed, than to have their city graced with a most beautiful
statue of Minerva: and yet, notwithstanding this, I would much rather have
been a Phidias, than the most skilful joiner in Athens. In the present
case, therefore, we are not to consider a man's usefulness, but the
strength of his abilities; especially as the number of painters and
statuaries, who have excelled in their profession, is very small; whereas,
there can never be any want of joiners and mechanic labourers. But
proceed, my Atticus, with Caesar; and oblige us with the remainder of his
character."--"We see then," said he, "from what has just been mentioned,
that a pure and correct style is the groundwork, and the very basis and
foundation, upon which an Orator must build his other accomplishments:
though, it is true, that those who had hitherto possessed it, derived it
more from early habit, than from any principles of art. It is needless to
refer you to the instances of Laelius and Scipio; for a purity of
language, as well as of manners, was the characteristic of the age they
lived in. It could not, indeed, be applied to every one; for their two
cotemporaries, Caecilius and Pacuvius, spoke very incorrectly: but yet
people in general, who had not resided out of the city, nor been corrupted
by any domestic barbarisms, spoke the Roman language with purity. Time,
however, as well at Rome as in Greece, soon altered matters for the worse:
for this city, (as had formerly been the case at Athens) was resorted to
by a crowd of adventurers from different parts, who spoke very corruptly;
which shews the necessity of reforming our language, and reducing it to a
certain standard, which shall not be liable to vary like the capricious
laws of custom. Though we were then very young, we can easily remember T.
Flaminius, who was joint-consul with Q. Metellus: he was supposed to speak
his native language with correctness, but was a man of no Literature. As
to Catulus, he was far indeed from being destitute of learning, as you
have already observed: but his reputed purity of diction was chiefly owing
to the sweetness of his voice, and the delicacy of his accent. Cotta, who,
by his broad pronunciation, threw off all resemblance of the elegant tone
of the Greeks, and affected a harsh and rustic utterance, quite opposite
to that of Catulus, acquired the same reputation of correctness by
pursuing a wild and unfrequented path. But Sisenna, who had the ambition
to think of reforming our phraseology, could not be lashed out of his
whimsical and new-fangled turns of expression, by all the raillery of C.
Rufius."--"What do you refer to?" said Brutus; "and who was the Caius
Rufius you are speaking of?"--"He was a noted prosecutor," replied he,
"some years ago. When this man had supported an indictment against one
Christilius, Sisenna, who was counsel for the defendant, told him, that
several parts of his accusation were absolutely _spitatical_. [Footnote:
In the original _sputatilica_, worthy to be spit upon. It appears, from
the connection, to have been a very unclassical word, whimsically derived
by the author of it from _sputa_, spittle.] _My Lords_, cried Rufius to
the judges, _I shall be cruelly over-reached, unless you give me your
assistance. His charge overpowers my comprehension; and I am afraid he has
some unfair design upon me. What, in the name of Heaven, can be intend by_
SPITATICAL? _I know the meaning of_ SPIT, _or_ SPITTLE; _but this horrid_
ATICAL, _at the end of it, absolutely puzzles me._ The whole Bench laughed
very heartily at the singular oddity of the expression: my old friend,
however, was still of opinion, that to speak correctly, was to speak
differently from other people. But Caesar, who was guided by the
principles of art, has corrected the imperfections of a vicious custom, by
adopting the rules and improvements of a good one, as he found them
occasionally displayed in the course of polite conversation. Accordingly,
to the purest elegance of expression, (which is equally necessary to every
well-bred Citizen, as to an Orator) he has added all the various ornaments
of Elocution; so that he seems to exhibit the finest painting in the most
advantageous point of view. As he has such extraordinary merit even in the
common run of his language, I must confess that there is no person I know
of, to whom he should yield the preference. Besides, his manner of
speaking, both as to his voice and gesture, is splendid and noble, without
the least appearance of artifice or affectation: and there is a dignity in
his very presence, which bespeaks a great and elevated mind."--"Indeed,"
said Brutus, "his Orations please me highly; for I have had the
satisfaction to read several of them. He has likewise wrote some
commentaries, or short memoirs, of his own transactions;"--"and such,"
said I, "as merit the highest approbation: for they are plain, correct,
and graceful, and divested of all the ornaments of language, so as to
appear (if I may be allowed the expression) in a kind of undress. But
while he pretended only to furnish the loose materials, for such as might
be inclined to compose a regular history, he may, perhaps, have gratified
the vanity of a few literary _Frisseurs_: but he has certainly prevented
all sensible men from attempting any improvement on his plan. For in
history, nothing is more pleasing than a correct and elegant brevity of
expression. With your leave, however, it is high time to return to those
Orators who have quitted the stage of life. C. Sicinius then, who was a
grandson of the Censor Q. Pompey, by one of his daughters, died after his
advancement to the Quaestorship. He was a Speaker of some merit and
reputation, which he derived from the system of Hermagoras; who, though he
furnished but little assistance for acquiring an ornamental style, gave
many useful precepts to expedite and improve the invention of an Orator.
For in this System we have a collection of fixed and determinate rules for
public speaking; which are delivered indeed without any shew or parade,
(and, I might have added, in a trivial and homely form) but yet are so
plain and methodical, that it is almost impossible to mistake the road. By
keeping close to these, and always digesting his subject before he
ventured to speak upon it, (to which we may add, that he had a tolerable
fluency of expression) he so far succeeded, without any other assistance,
as to be ranked among the pleaders of the day.--As to C. Visellius Varro,
who was my cousin, and a cotemporary of Sicinius, he was a man of great
learning. He died while he was a member of the Court of Inquests, into
which he had been admitted after the expiration of his Aedileship. The
public, I confess, had not the same opinion of his abilities that I have;
for he never passed as a man of Sterling Eloquence among the people. His
style was excessively quick and rapid, and consequently obscure; for, in
fact, it was embarrassed and blinded by the celerity of its course: and
yet, after all, you will scarcely find a man who had a better choice of
words, or a richer vein of sentiment. He had besides a complete fund of
polite literature, and a thorough knowledge of the principles of
jurisprudence, which he learned from his father Aculeo. To proceed in our
account of the dead, the next that presents himself is L. Torquatus, whom
you will not so readily pronounce a connoisseur in the Art of Speaking
(though he was by no means destitute of elocution) as, what is called by
the Greeks, _a political Adept_. He had a plentiful stock of learning, not
indeed of the common sort, but of a more abstruse and curious nature: he
had likewise an admirable memory, and a very sensible and elegant turn of
expression; all which qualities derived an additional grace from the
dignity of his deportment, and the integrity of his manners. I was also
highly pleased with the style of his cotemporary Triarius, which expressed
to perfection, the character of a worthy old gentleman, who had been
thoroughly polished by the refinements of Literature.--What a venerable
severity was there in his look! What forcible solemnity in his language!
and how thoughtful and deliberate every word he spoke!"--At the mention of
Torquatus and Triarius, for each of whom he had the most affectionate
veneration,--"It fills my heart with anguish," said Brutus, "(to omit a
thousand other circumstances) when I reflect, as I cannot help doing, on
your mentioning the names of these worthy men, that your long-respected
authority was insufficient to procure an accommodation of our differences.
The Republic would not otherwise have been deprived of these, and many
other excellent Citizens."--"Not a word more," said I, on this melancholy
subject, which can only aggravate our sorrow: for as the remembrance of
what is already past is painful enough, the prospect of what is yet to
come is still more cutting. Let us, therefore, drop our unavailing
complaints, and (agreeably to our plan) confine our attention to the
forensic merits of our deceased friends. Among those, then, who lost their
lives in this unhappy war, was M. Bibulus, who, though not a professed
orator, was a very accurate writer, and a solid and experienced advocate:
and Appius Claudius, your father-in-law, and my colleague and intimate
acquaintance, who was not only a hard student, and a man of learning, but
a practised Orator, a skilful Augurist and Civilian, and a thorough Adept
in the Roman History.--As to L. Domitius, he was totally unacquainted
with any rules of art; but he spoke his native language with purity, and
had a great freedom of address. We had likewise the two Lentuli, men of
consular dignity; one of whom, (I mean Publius) the avenger of my wrongs,
and the author of my restoration, derived all his powers and
accomplishments from the assistance of Art, and not from the bounty of
Nature: but he had such a great and noble disposition, that he claimed all
the honours of the most illustrious Citizens, and supported them with the
utmost dignity of character.--The other (L. Lentulus) was an animated
Speaker, for it would be saying too much, perhaps, to call him an Orator--
but, unhappily, he had an utter aversion to the trouble of thinking. His
voice was sonorous; and his language, though not absolutely harsh and
forbidding, was warm and rigorous, and carried in it a kind of terror. In
a judicial trial, you would probably have wished for a more agreeable and
a keener advocate: but in a debate on matters of government, you would
have thought his abilities sufficient.--Even Titus Postumius had such
powers of utterance, as were not to be despised: but in political matters,
he spoke with the same unbridled ardour he fought with: in short, he was
much too warm; though it must be owned he possessed an extensive knowledge
of the laws and constitution of his country."--"Upon my word," cried
Atticus, "if the persons you have mentioned were still living, I should be
apt to imagine, that you was endeavouring to solicit their favour. For you
introduce every body who had the courage to stand up and speak his mind:
so that I almost begin to wonder how M. Servilius has escaped your
notice."--"I am, indeed, very sensible," replied I, "that there have been
many who never spoke in public, that were much better qualified for the
talk, than those Orators I have taken the pains to enumerate: [Footnote:
This was probably intended as an indirect Compliment to Atticus.] but I
have, at least, answered one purpose by it, which is to shew you, that in
this populous City, we have not had very many who had the resolution to
speak at all; and that even among these, there have been few who were
entitled to our applause. I cannot, therefore, neglect to take some notice
of those worthy knights, and my intimate friends, very lately deceased, P.
Comminius Spoletinus, against whom I pleaded in defence of C. Cornelius,
and who was a methodical, a spirited, and a ready Speaker; and T. Accius,
of Pisaurum, to whom I replied in behalf of A. Cluentius, and who was an
accurate, and a tolerably copious Advocate: he was also well instructed in
the precepts of Hermagoras, which, though of little service to embellish
and enrich our Elocution, furnish a variety of arguments, which, like the
weapons of the light infantry, may be readily managed, and are adapted to
every subject of debate. I must add, that I never knew a man of greater
industry and application. As to C. Piso, my son-in-law, it is scarcely
possible to mention any one who was blessed with a finer capacity. He was
constantly employed either in public speaking, and private declamatory
exercises, or, at least, in writing and thinking: and, consequently, he
made such a rapid progress, that he rather seemed to fly than to run. He
had an elegant choice of expression, and the structure of his periods was
perfectly neat and harmonious; he had an astonishing variety and strength
of argument, and a lively and agreeable turn of sentiment: and his gesture
was naturally so graceful, that it appeared to have been formed (which it
really was not) by the nicest rules of art. I am rather fearful, indeed,
that I should be thought to have been prompted by my affection for him to
have given him a greater character than he deserved: but this is so far
from being the case, that I might justly have ascribed to him many
qualities of a different and more valuable nature: for in continence,
social piety, and every other kind of virtue, there was scarcely any of
his cotemporaries who was worthy to be compared with him.--M. Caelius too
must not pass unnoticed, notwithstanding the unhappy change, either of his
fortune or disposition, which marked the latter part of his life. As long
as he was directed by my influence, he behaved himself so well as a
Tribune of the people, that no man supported the interests of the Senate,
and of all the good and virtuous, in opposition to the factious and unruly
madness of a set of abandoned citizens, with more firmness than _he_ did:
a part in which he was enabled to exert himself to great advantage, by the
force and dignity of his language, and his lively humour, and genteel
address. He spoke several harangues in a very sensible style, and three
spirited invectives, which originated from our political disputes: and his
defensive speeches, though not equal to the former, were yet tolerably
good, and had a degree of merit which was far from being contemptible.
After he had been advanced to the Aedileship, by the hearty approbation of
all the better sort of citizens, as he had lost my company (for I was then
abroad in Cilicia) he likewise lost himself; and entirely sunk his credit,
by imitating the conduct of those very men, whom he had before so
successfully opposed.--But M. Calidius has a more particular claim to our
notice for the singularity of his character; which cannot so properly be
said to have entitled him to a place among our other Orators, as to
distinguish him from the whole fraternity; for in him we beheld the most
uncommon, and the most delicate sentiments, arrayed in the softest and
finest language imaginable. Nothing could be so easy as the turn and
compass of his periods; nothing so ductile; nothing more pliable and
obsequious to his will, so that he had a greater command of it than any
Orator whatever. In short, the flow of his language was so pure and
limpid, that nothing could be clearer; and so free, that it was never
clogged or obstructed. Every word was exactly in the place where it should
be, and disposed (as Lucilius expresses it) with as much nicety as in a
curious piece of Mosaic-work. We may add, that he had not a single
expression which was either harsh, unnatural, abject, or far-fetched; and
yet he was so far from confining himself to the plain and ordinary mode of
speaking, that he abounded greatly in the metaphor,--but such metaphors as
did not appear to usurp a post that belonged to another, but only to
occupy their own. These delicacies were displayed not in a loose and
disfluent style; but in such a one as was strictly _numerous_, without
_either_ appearing to be so, or running on with a dull uniformity of
sound. He was likewise master of the various ornaments of language and
sentiment which the Greeks call _figures_, whereby he enlivened and
embellished his style as with so many forensic decorations. We may add
that he readily discovered, upon all occasions, what was the real point of
debate, and where the stress of the argument lay; and that his method of
ranging his ideas was extremely artful, his action genteel, and his whole
manner very engaging and very sensible. In short, if to speak agreeably is
the chief merit of an Orator, you will find no one who was better
qualified than Calidius. But as we have observed a little before, that it
is the business of an Orator to instruct, to please, and _to move the
passions_; he was, indeed, perfectly master of the two first; for no one
could better elucidate his subject, or charm the attention of his
audience. But as to the third qualification,--the moving and alarming the
passions,--which is of much greater efficacy than the two former, he was
wholly destitute of it. He had no force,--no exertion;--either by his own
choice, and from an opinion that those who had a loftier turn of
expression, and a more warm and spirited action, were little betther than
madmen; or because it was contrary to his natural temper, and habitual
practice; or, lastly, because it was beyond the strength of his abilities.
If, indeed, it is a useless quality, his want of it was a real excellence:
but if otherwise, it was certainly a defect. I particularly remember, that
when he prosecuted Q. Gallius for an attempt to poison him, and pretended
that he had the plainest proofs of it, and could produce many letters,
witnesses, informations, and other evidences to put the truth of his
charge beyond a doubt, interspersing many sensible and ingenious remarks
on the nature of the crime;--I remember, I say, that when it came to my
turn to reply to him, after urging every argument which the case itself
suggested, I insisted upon it as a material circumstance in favour of my
client, that the prosecutor, while he charged him with a design against
his life, and assured us that he had the most indubitable proofs of it
then in his hands, related his story with as much ease, and as much
calmness, and indifference, as if nothing had happened."--"Would it have
been possible," said I, (addressing myself to Calidius) "that you should
speak with this air of unconcern, unless the charge was purely an
invention of your own? and, above all, that you, whose Eloquence has often
vindicated the wrongs of other people with so much spirit, should speak so
coolly of a crime which threatened your life? Where was that expression of
resentment which is so natural to the injured? Where that ardour, that
eagerness, which extorts the most pathetic language even from men of the
dullest capacities? There was no visible disorder in your mind, no emotion
in your looks and gesture, no smiting of the thigh or the forehead, nor
even a single stamp of the foot. You was, therefore, so far from
interesting our passions in your favour, that we could scarcely keep our
eyes open, while you was relating the dangers you had so narrowly escaped.
Thus we employed the natural defect, or if you please, the sensible
calmness of an excellent Orator, as an argument to invalidate his
charge."--"But is it possible to doubt," cried Brutus, "whether this was a
sensible quality, or a defect? For as the greatest merit of an Orator is
to be able to inflame the passions, and give them such a biass as shall
best answer his purpose; he who is destitute of this must certainly be
deficient in the most capital part of his profession."--"I am of the same
opinion," said I; "but let us now proceed to him (Hortensius) who is the
only remaining Orator worth noticing; after which, as you may seem to
insist upon it, I shall say something of myself. I must first, however, do
justice to the memory of two promising youths, who, if they had lived to a
riper age, would have acquired the highest reputation for their
Eloquence."--"You mean, I suppose," said Brutus, "C. Curio, and C.
Licinius Calvus."--"The very same," replied I. "One of them, besides his
plausible manner, had such an easy and voluble flow of expression, and
such an inexhaustible variety, and sometimes accuracy of sentiment, that
he was one of the most ready and ornamental speakers of his time. Though
he had received but little instruction from the professed masters of the
art, Nature had furnished him with an admirable capacity of the practice
of it. I never, indeed, discovered in him any great degree of application;
but he was certainly very ambitious to distinguish himself; and if he had
continued to listen to my advice, as he had begun to do, he would have
preferred the acquisition of real honour to that of untimely grandeur."--
"What do you mean," said Brutus? "Or in what manner are these two objects
to be distinguished?"--"I distinguish them thus," replied I: "As honour is
the reward of virtue, conferred upon a man by the choice and affection of
his fellow-citizens, he who obtains it by their free votes and suffrages
is to be considered, in my opinion, as an honourable member of the
community. But he who acquires his power and authority by taking advantage
of every unhappy incident, and without the consent of his fellow-citizens,
as Curio aimed to do, acquires only the name of honour, without the
substance. Whereas, if he had hearkened to me, he would have risen to the
highest dignity, in an honourable manner, and with the hearty approbation
of all men, by a gradual advancement to public offices, as his father and
many other eminent citizens had done before. I often gave the same advice
to P. Crassus, the son of Marcus, who courted my friendship in the early
part of his life; and recommended it to him very warmly, to consider
_that_ as the truest path to honour which had been already marked out to
him by the example of his ancestors. For he had been extremely well
educated, and was perfectly versed in every branch of polite literature:
he had likewise a penetrating genius, and an elegant variety of
expression; and appeared grave and sententious without arrogance, and
modest and diffident without dejection. But like many other young men he
was carried away by the tide of ambition; and after serving a short time
with reputation as a volunteer, nothing could satisfy him but to try his
fortune as a General,--an employment which was confined by the wisdom of
our ancestors to men who had arrived at a certain age, and who, even then,
were obliged to submit their pretensions to the uncertain issue of a
public decision. Thus, by exposing himself to a fatal catastrophe, while
he was endeavouring to rival the fame of Cyrus and Alexander, who lived to
finish their desperate career, he lost all resemblance of L. Crassus, and
his other worthy Progenitors.

"But let us return to Calvus whom we have just mentioned,--an Orator who
had received more literary improvements than Curio, and had a more
accurate and delicate manner of speaking, which he conducted with great
taste and elegance; but, (by being too minute and nice a critic upon
himself,) while he was labouring to correct and refine his language, he
suffered all the force and spirit of it to evaporate. In short, it was so
exquisitely polished, as to charm the eye of every skilful observer; but
it was little noticed by the common people in a crowded Forum, which is
the proper theatre of Eloquence."--"His aim," said Brutus, "was to be
admired as an _Attic_ Orator: and to this we must attribute that accurate
exility of style, which he constantly affected."--"This, indeed, was his
professed character," replied I: "but he was deceived himself, and led
others into the same mistake. It is true, whoever supposes that to speak
in the _Attic_ taste, is to avoid every awkward, every harsh, every
vicious expression, has, in this sense, an undoubted right to refuse his
approbation to every thing which is not strictly _Attic_. For he must
naturally detest whatever is insipid, disgusting, or invernacular; while
he considers a correctness and propriety of language as the religion, and
good-manners of an Orator:--and every one who pretends to speak in public
should adopt the same opinion. But if he bestows the name of Atticism on a
half-starved, a dry, and a niggardly turn of expression, provided it is
neat, correct, and genteel, I cannot say, indeed, that he bestows it
improperly; as the Attic Orators, however, had many qualities of a more
important nature, I would advise him to be careful that he does not
overlook their different kinds and degrees of merit, and their great
extent and variety of character. The Attic Speakers, he will tell me, are
the models upon which he wishes to form his Eloquence. But which of them
does he mean to fix upon? for they are not all of the same cast. Who, for
instance, could be more unlike each other than Demosthenes and Lysias? or
than Demosthenes and Hyperides? Or who more different from either of them,
than Aeschines? Which of them, then, do you propose to imitate? If only
_one_, this will be a tacit implication, that none of the rest were true
masters of Atticism: if _all_, how can you possibly succeed, when their
characters are so opposite? Let me further ask you, whether Demetrius
Phalereus spoke in the Attic style? In my opinion, his Orations have the
very smell of Athens. But he is certainly more florid than either
Hyperides or Lysias; partly from the natural turn of his genius, and
partly by choice. There were likewise two others, at the time we are
speaking of, whose characters were equally dissimilar; and yet both of
them were truly _Attic_. The first (Charisius) was the author of a number
of speeches, which he composed for his friends, professedly in imitation
of Lysias:--and the other (Demochares, the nephew of Demosthenes) wrote
several Orations, and a regular History of what was transacted in Athens
under his own observation; not so much, indeed, in the style of an
Historian, as of an Orator. Hegesias took the former for his model, and
had so vain a conceit of his own taste for Atticism, that he considered
his predecessors, who were really masters of it, as mere rustics in
comparison of himself. But what can be more insipid, more frivolous, or
more puerile, than that very concinnity of expression which he actually
acquired?"--"_But still we wish to resemble the Attic Speakers_."--"Do so,
by all means. But were not those, then, true Attic Speakers, we have just
been mentioning?"--"_Nobody denies it; and these are the men we
imitate._"--"But how? when they are so very different, not only from each
other, but from all the rest of their contemporaries?"--"_True; but
Thucydides is our leading pattern_."--"This too I can allow, if you design
to compose histories, instead of pleading causes. For Thucydides was both
an exact, and a stately historian: but he never intended to write models
for conducting a judicial process. I will even go so far as to add, that I
have often commended the speeches which he has inserted into his history
in great numbers; though I must frankly own, that I neither _could_
imitate them, if I _would,_ nor indeed _would,_ if I _could;_ like a man
who would neither choose his wine so new as to have been turned off in the
preceding vintage, nor so excessively old as to date its age from the
consulship of Opimius or Anicius."--"_The latter_, you'll say, _bears the
highest price_." "Very probable; but when it has too much age, it has lost
that delicious flavour which pleases the palate, and, in my opinion, is
scarcely tolerable."--"_Would you choose, then, when you have a mind to
regale yourself, to apply to a fresh, unripened cask?_" "By no means; but
still there is a certain age, when good wine arrives at its utmost
perfection. In the same manner, I would recommend neither a raw,
unmellowed style, which, (if I may so express myself) has been newly drawn
off from the vat; nor the rough, and antiquated language of the grave and
manly Thucydides. For even _he_, if he had lived a few years later, would
have acquired a much softer and mellower turn of expression."--"_Let us,
then, imitate Demosthenes_."--"Good Gods! to what else do I direct all my
endeavours, and my wishes! But it is, perhaps, my misfortune not to
succeed. These _Atticisers_, however, acquire with ease the paltry
character they aim at; not once recollecting that it is not only recorded
in history, but must have been the natural consequence of his superior
fame, that when Demosthenes was to speak in public, all Greece flocked in
crowds to hear him. But when our _Attic_ gentry venture to speak, they are
presently deserted not only by the little throng around them who have no
interest in the dispute, (which alone is a mortifying proof of their
insignificance) but even by their associates and fellow-advocates. If to
speak, therefore, in a dry and lifeless manner, is the true criterion of
Atticism, they are heartily welcome to enjoy the credit of it: but if they
wish to put their abilities to the trial, let them attend the Comitia, or
a judicial process of real importance. The open Forum demands a fuller,
and more elevated tone: and _he_ is the Orator for me, who is so
universally admired that when he is to plead an interesting cause, all the
benches are filled beforehand, the tribunal crowded, the clerks and
notaries busy in adjusting their seats, the populace thronging about the
rostra, and the judge brisk, and vigilant;--_he_, who has such a
commanding air, that when he rises up to speak, the whole audience is
hushed into a profound silence, which is soon interrupted by their
repeated plaudits, and acclamations, or by those successive bursts of
laughter, or violent transports of passion, which he knows how to excite
at his pleasure; so that even a distant observer, though unacquainted with
the subject he is speaking upon, can easily discover that his hearers are
pleased with him, and that a _Roscius_ is performing his part on the
stage. Whoever has the happiness to be thus followed and applauded is,
beyond dispute, an _Attic_ speaker: for such was Pericles,--such was
Hyperides, and Aeschines,--and such, in the most eminent degree, was the
great Demosthenes! If indeed, these connoisseurs, who have so much dislike
to every thing bold and ornamental, only mean to say that an accurate, a
judicious, and a neat, and compact, but unembellished style, is really an
_Attic_ one, they are not mistaken. For in an art of such wonderful extent
and variety as that of speaking, even this subtile and confined character
may claim a place: so that the conclusion will be, that it is very
possible to speak in the _Attic_ taste, without deserving the name of an
Orator; but that all in general who are truly eloquent, are likewise
_Attic_ Speakers.--It is time, however, to return to Hortensius."--"
Indeed, I think so," cried Brutus: "though I must acknowledge that this
long digression of yours has entertained me very agreeably."

"But I made some remarks," said Atticus, "which I had several times a mind
to mention; only I was loath to interrupt you. As your discourse, however,
seems to be drawing towards an end, I think I may venture to out with
them."--"By all means," replied I.--"I readily grant, then," said he,
"that there is something very humourous and elegant in that continued
_Irony_, which Socrates employs to so much advantage in the dialogues of
Plato, Xenophon, and Aeschines. For when a dispute commences on the nature
of wisdom, he professes, with a great deal of humour and ingenuity, to
have no pretensions to it himself; while, with a kind of concealed
raillery, he ascribes the highest degree of it to those who had the
arrogance to lay an open claim to it. Thus, in Plato, he extols
Protagoras, Hippias, Prodicus, Gorgias, and several others, to the skies:
but represents himself as a mere ignorant. This in _him_ was peculiarly
becoming; nor can I agree with Epicurus, who thinks it censurable. But in
a professed History, (for such, in fact, is the account you have been
giving us of the Roman Orators) I shall leave you to judge, whether an
application of the _Irony_ is not equally reprehensible, as it would be in
giving a judicial evidence."--"Pray, what are you driving at," said I,--
"for I cannot comprehend you."--"I mean," replied he, "in the first place,
that the commendations which you have bestowed upon some of our Orators,
have a tendency to mislead the opinion of those who are unacquainted with
their true characters. There were likewise several parts of your account,
at which I could scarcely forbear laughing: as, for instance, when you
compared old Cato to Lysias. He was, indeed, a great, and a very
extraordinary man. Nobody, I believe, will say to the contrary. But shall
we call him an Orator? Shall we pronounce him the rival of Lysias, who was
the most finished character of the kind? If we mean to jest, this
comparison of your's would form a pretty _Irony_: but if we are talking in
real earnest, we should pay the same scrupulous regard to truth, as if we
were giving evidence upon oath. As a Citizen, a Senator, a General, and,
in short, a man who was distinguished by his prudence, his activity, and
every other virtue, your favourite Cato has my highest approbation. I can
likewise applaud his speeches, considering the time he lived in. They
exhibit the out-lines of a great genius; but such, however, as are
evidently rude and imperfect. In the same manner, when you represented his
_Antiquities_ as replete with all the graces of Oratory, and compared Cato
with Philistus and Thucydides, did you really imagine, that you could
persuade me and Brutus to believe you? or would you seriously degrade
those, whom none of the Greeks themselves have been able to equal, into a
comparison with a stiff country, gentleman, who scarcely suspected that
there was any such thing in being, as a copious and ornamental style? You
have likewise said much in commendation of Galba;--if as the best Speaker
of his age, I can so far agree with you, for such was the character he
bore:--but if you meant to recommend him as an _Orator_, produce his
Orations (for they are still extant) and then tell me honestly, whether
you would wish your friend Brutus here to speak as _he_? Lepidus too was
the author of several Speeches, which have received your approbation; in
which I can partly join with you, if you consider them only as specimens
of our ancient Eloquence. The same might be said of Africanus and Laelius,
than whose language (you tell us) nothing in the world can be sweeter:
nay, you have mentioned it with a kind of veneration, and endeavoured to
dazzle our judgment by the great character they bore, and the uncommon
elegance of their manners. Divest it of these adventitious Graces, and
this sweet language of theirs will appear so homely, as to be scarcely
worth noticing. Carbo too was mentioned as one of our capital Orators; and
for this only reason,--that in speaking, as in all other professions,
whatever is the best of its kind, for the time being, how deficient soever
in reality, is always admired and applauded. What I have said of Carbo, is
equally true of the Gracchi: though, in some particulars, the character
you have given them was no more than they deserved. But to say nothing of
the rest of your Orators, let us proceed to Antonius and Crassus, your two
paragons of Eloquence, whom I have heard myself, and who were certainly
very able Speakers. To the extraordinary commendation you have bestowed
upon them, I can readily give my assent; but not, however, in such an
unlimited manner as to persuade myself that you have received as much
improvement from the Speech in support of the Servilian Law, as Lysippus
said he had done by studying the famous [Footnote: _Doryphorus_. A Spear-
man.] statue of Polycletus. What you have said on _this_ occasion I
consider as an absolute _Irony:_ but I shall not inform you why I think
so, lest you should imagine I design to flatter you. I shall therefore
pass over the many fine encomiums you have bestowed upon _these_; and what
you have said of Cotta and Sulpicius, and but very lately of your pupil
Caelius. I acknowledge, however, that we may call them Orators: but as to
the nature and extent of their merit, let your own judgment decide. It is
scarcely worth observing, that you have had the additional good-nature to
crowd so many daubers into your list, that there are some, I believe, who
will be ready to wish they had died long ago, that you might have had an
opportunity to insert _their_ names among the rest."--"You have opened a
wide field of enquiry," said I, "and started a subject which deserves a
separate discussion; but we must defer it to a more convenient time. For,
to settle it, a great variety of authors must be examined, and especially
_Cato_: which could not fail to convince you, that nothing was wanting to
complete his pieces, but those rich and glowing colours which had not then
been invented. As to the above Oration of Crassus, he himself, perhaps,
could have written better, if he had been willing to take the trouble; but
nobody else, I believe, could have mended it. You have no reason,
therefore, to think I spoke _ironically_, when I mentioned it as the guide
and _tutoress_ of my Eloquence: for though you seem to have a higher
opinion of my capacity, in its present state, you must remember that, in
our youth, we could find nothing better to imitate among the Romans. And
as to my admitting so _many_ into my list of Orators, I only did it (as I
have already observed) to shew how few have succeeded in a profession, in
which all were desirous to excel. I therefore insist upon it that you do
not consider _me_ in the present case, as an _Ironist_; though we are
informed by C. Fannius, in his History, that _Africanus_ was a very
excellent one."--"As you please about _that_," cried Atticus: "though, by
the bye, I did not imagine it would have been any disgrace to you, to be
what Africanus and Socrates have been before you."--"We may settle _this_
another time," interrupted Brutus: "but will you be so obliging," said he,
(addressing himself to _me_) "as to give us a critical analysis of some of
the old speeches you have mentioned?"--"Very willingly," replied I; "but
it must be at Cuma, or Tusculum, when opportunity offers: for we are near
neighbours, you know, in both places. At present, let us return to
_Hortensius_, from whom we have digressed a second time."

"Hortensius, then, who began to speak in public when he was very young,
was soon employed even in causes of the greatest moment: and though he
first appeared in the time of Cotta and Sulpicius, (who were only ten
years older) and when Crassus and Antonius, and afterwards Philip and
Julius, were in the height of their reputation, he was thought worthy to
be compared with either of them in point of Eloquence. He had such an
excellent memory as I never knew in any person; so that what he had
composed in private, he was able to repeat, without notes, in the very
same words he had made use of at first. He employed this natural advantage
with so much readiness, that he not only recollected whatever he had
written or premeditated himself, but remembered every thing that had been
said by his opponents, without the help of a prompter. He was likewise
inflamed with such a passionate fondness for the profession, that I never
saw any one, who took more pains to improve himself; for he would not
suffer a day to elapse, without either speaking in the Forum, or composing
something at home; and very often he did both in the same day. He had,
besides, a turn of expression which was very far from being low and
unelevated; and possessed two other accomplishments, in which no one could
equal him,--an uncommon clearness and accuracy in stating the points he
was to speak to; and a neat and easy manner of collecting the substance of
what had been said by his antagonist, and by himself. He had likewise an
elegant choice of words, an agreeable flow in his periods, and a copious
Elocution, which he was partly indebted for to a fine natural capacity,
and partly acquired by the most laborious rhetorical exercises. In short,
he had a most retentive view of his subject, and always divided and
parcelled it out with the greatest exactness; and he very seldom
overlooked any thing which the case could suggest, that was proper either
to support his _own_ allegations, or to refute those of his opponent.
Lastly, he had a sweet and sonorous voice; and his gesture had rather more
art in it, and was more exactly managed, than is requisite to an Orator.

"While _he_ was in the height of his glory, Crassus died, Cotta was
banished, our public trials were intermitted by the Marsic war, and I
myself made my first appearance in the Forum. Hortensius joined the army,
and served the first campaign as a volunteer, and the second as a military
Tribune: Sulpicius was made a lieutenant general; and Antonius was absent
on a similar account. The only trial we had, was that upon the Varian Law;
the rest, as I have just observed, having been intermitted by the war. We
had scarcely any body left at the bar but L. Memmius, and Q. Pompeius, who
spoke mostly on their own affairs; and, though far from being Orators of
the first distinction, were yet tolerable ones, (if we may credit
Philippus, who was himself a man of some Eloquence) and in supporting an
evidence, displayed all the poignancy of a prosecutor, with a moderate
freedom of Elocution. The rest, who were esteemed our capital Speakers,
were then in the magistracy, and I had the benefit of hearing their
harangues almost every day. C. Curio was chosen a Tribune of the people;
though he left off speaking after being once deserted by his whole
audience. To him I may add Q. Metellus Celer, who, though certainly no
Orator, was far from being destitute of utterance: but Q. Varius, C.
Carbo, and Cn. Pomponius, were men of real Elocution, and might almost be
said to have lived upon the Rostra. C. Julius too, who was then a Curule
Aedile, was daily employed in making Speeches to the people, which were
composed with great neatness and accuracy. But while I attended the Forum
with this eager curiosity, my first disappointment was the banishment of
Cotta: after which I continued to hear the rest with the same assiduity as
before; and though I daily spent the remainder of my time in reading,
writing, and private declamation, I cannot say that I much relished my
confinement to these preparatory exercises. The next year Q. Varius was
condemned, and banished, by his own law: and I, that I might acquire a
competent knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence, then attached
myself to Q. Scaevola, the son of Publius, who, though he did not choose
to undertake the charge of a pupil, yet by freely giving his advice to
those who consulted him, he answered every purpose of instruction to such
as took the trouble to apply to him. In the succeeding year, in which
Sylla and Pompey were Consuls, as Sulpicius, who was elected a Tribune of
the people, had occasion to speak in public almost every day, I had an
opportunity to acquaint myself thoroughly with his manner of speaking. At
this time Philo, a philosopher of the first name _in the Academy_, with
many of the principal Athenians, having deserted their native home, and
fled to Rome, from the fury of Mithridates, I immediately became his
scholar, and was exceedingly taken with his philosophy; and, besides the,
pleasure I received from the great variety and sublimity of his matter, I
was still more inclined to confine, my attention to that study; because
there was reason to apprehend that our laws and judicial proceedings would
be wholly overturned by the continuance of the public disorders. In the
same year Sulpicius lost his life; and Q. Catulus, M. Antonius, and C.
Julius, three Orators, who were partly cotemporary with each other, were
most inhumanly put to death. Then also I attended the lectures of Molo the
Rhodian, who was newly come to Rome, and was both an excellent Pleader,
and an able Teacher of the Art. I have mentioned these particulars, which,
perhaps, may appear foreign to our purpose, that _you_, my Brutus, (for
Atticus is already acquainted with them) may be able to mark my progress,
and observe how closely I trod upon the heels of Hortensius.

"The three following years the city was free from the tumult of arms; but
either by the death, the voluntary retirement, or the flight of our ablest
Orators (for even M. Crassus, and the two Lentuli, who were then in the
bloom of youth, had all left us) Hortensius, of course, was the first
Speaker in the Forum. Antistius too was daily rising into reputation,--
Piso pleaded pretty often,--Pomponius not so frequently,--Carbo very
seldom,--and Philippus only once or twice. In the mean while I pursued my
studies of every kind, day and night, with unremitting application. I
lodged and boarded at my own house [where he lately died] Diodotus the
Stoic; whom I employed as my preceptor in various other parts of learning,
but particularly in Logic, which may be considered as a close and
contracted species of Eloquence; and without which, you yourself have
declared it impossible to acquire that full and perfect Eloquence, which
they suppose to be an open and dilated kind of Logic. Yet with all my
attention to Diodotus, and the various arts he was master of, I never
suffered even a single day to escape me, without some exercise of the
oratorial kind. I constantly declaimed in private with M. Piso, Q.
Pompeius, or some other of my acquaintance; pretty often in Latin, but
much oftener in Greek; because the Greek furnishes a greater variety of
ornaments, and an opportunity of imitating and introducing them into the
Latin; and because the Greek masters, who were far the best, could not
correct and improve us, unless we declaimed in that language. This time
was distinguished by a violent struggle to restore the liberty of the
Republic:--the barbarous slaughter of the three Orators, Scaevola, Carbo,
and Antistius;--the return of Cotta, Curio, Crassus, Pompey, and the
Lentuli;--the re-establishment of the laws and courts of judicature;--and
the intire restoration of the Commonwealth: but we lost Pomponius,
Censorinus, and Murena, from the roll of Orators.

"I now began, for the _first_ time, to undertake the management of causes,
both private and public; not, as most did, with a view to learn my
profession, but to make a trial of the abilities which I had taken so much
pains to acquire. I had then a second opportunity of attending the
instructions of Molo; who came to Rome, while Sylla was Dictator, to
sollicit the payment of what was due to his countrymen, for their services
in the Mithridatic war. My defence of Sext. Roscius, which was the first
cause I pleaded, met with such a favourable reception, that, from that
moment, I was looked upon as an advocate of the first class, and equal to
the greatest and most important causes: and after this I pleaded many
others, which I pre-composed with all the care and accuracy I was master

"But as you seem desirous not so much to be acquainted with any incidental
marks of my character, or the first sallies of my youth, as to know me
thoroughly, I shall mention some particulars, which otherwise might have
seemed unnecessary. At this time my body was exceedingly weak and
emaciated; my neck long, and slender; a shape and habit, which I thought
to be liable to great risk of life, if engaged in any violent fatigue, or
labour of the lungs. And it gave the greater alarm to those who had a
regard for me, that I used to speak without any remission or variation,
with the utmost stretch of my voice, and a total agitation of my body.
When my friends, therefore, and physicians, advised me to meddle no more
with forensic causes, I resolved to run any hazard, rather than quit the
hopes of glory, which I had proposed to myself from pleading: but when I
considered, that by managing my voice, and changing my way of speaking, I
might both avoid all future danger of that kind, and speak with greater
ease, I took a resolution of travelling into Asia, merely for an
opportunity to correct my manner of speaking. So that after I had been two
years at the Bar, and acquired some reputation in the Forum, I left Rome.
When I came to Athens, I spent six months with Antiochus, the principal
and most judicious Philosopher of _the old Academy_; and under this able
master, I renewed those philosophical studies which I had laboriously
cultivated and improved from my earliest youth. At the same time, however,
I continued my _rhetorical Exercises_ under Demetrius the Syrian, an
experienced and reputable master of the Art of Speaking.

"After leaving Athens, I traversed every part of Asia, where I was
voluntarily attended by the principal Orators of the country with whom I
renewed my rhetorical Exercises. The chief of them was Menippus of
Stratonica, the most eloquent of all the Asiatics: and if to be neither
tedious nor impertinent is the characteristic of an Attic Orator, he may
be justly ranked in that class. Dionysius also of Magnesia, Aeschilus of
Cnidos, and Xenocles of Adramyttus, who were esteemed the first
Rhetoricians of Asia, were continually with me. Not contented with these,
I went to Rhodes, and applied myself again to Molo, whom I had heard
before at Rome; and who was both an experienced pleader, and a fine
writer, and particularly judicious in remarking the faults of his
scholars, as well as in his method of teaching and improving them. His
principal trouble with me, was to restrain the luxuriancy of a juvenile
imagination, always ready to overflow its banks, within its due and proper
channel. Thus, after an excursion of two years, I returned to Italy, not
only much improved, but almost changed into a new man. The vehemence of my
voice and action was considerably abated; the excessive ardour of my
language was corrected; my lungs were strengthened; and my whole
constitution confirmed and settled.

"Two Orators then reigned in the Forum; (I mean Cotta and Hortensius)
whose glory fired my emulation. Cotta's way of speaking was calm and easy,
and distinguished by the flowing elegance and propriety of his language.
The other was splendid, warm, and animated; not such as you, my Brutus,
have seen him when he had shed the blossom of his eloquence, but far more
lively and pathetic both in his style and action. As Hortensius,
therefore, was nearer to me in age, and his manner more agreeable to the
natural ardour of my temper, I considered him as the proper object of my
competition. For I observed that when they were both engaged in the same
cause, (as for instance, when they defended M. Canuleius, and Cn.
Dolabella, a man of consular dignity) though Cotta was generally employed
to open the defence, the most important parts of it were left to the
management of Hortensius. For a crowded audience, and a clamorous Forum,
require an Orator who is lively, animated, full of action, and able to
exert his voice to the highest pitch. The first year, therefore, after my
return from Asia, I undertook several capital causes; and in the interim I
put up as a candidate for the Quaestorship, Cotta for the Consulate, and
Hortensius for the Aedileship. After I was chosen Quaestor, I passed a
year in Sicily, the province assigned to me by lot: Cotta went as Consul
into Gaul: and Hortensius, whose new office required his presence at Rome,
was left of course the undisputed sovereign of the Forum. In the
succeeding year, when I returned from Sicily, my oratorial talents, such
as they were, displayed themselves in their full perfection and maturity.

"I have been saying too much, perhaps, concerning myself: but my design in
it was not to make a parade of my eloquence and ability, which I have no
temptation to do, but only to specify the pains and labour which I have
taken to improve it. After spending the five succeeding years in pleading
a variety of causes, and with the ablest Advocates of the time, I was
declared an Aedile, and undertook the patronage of the Sicilians against
Hortensius, who was then one of the Consuls elect. But as the subject of
our conversation not only requires an historical detail of Orators, but
such preceptive remarks as may be necessary to elucidate their characters;
it will not be improper to make some observations of this kind upon that
of Hortensius. After his appointment to the consulship (very probably,
because he saw none of consular dignity who were able to rival him, and
despised the competition of others of inferior rank) he began to remit
that intense application which he had hitherto persevered in from his
childhood; and having settled himself in very affluent circumstances, he
chose to live for the future what he thought an _easy_ life, but which, in
truth, was rather an indolent one. In the three succeeding years, the
beauty of his colouring was so much impaired, as to be very perceptible to
a skilful connoisseur, though not to a common observer. After that, he
grew every day more unlike himself than before, not only in other parts of
Eloquence, but by a gradual decay of the former celerity and elegant
texture of his language. I, at the same time, spared no pains to improve
and enlarge my talents, such as they were, by every exercise that was
proper for the purpose, but particularly by that of writing. Not to
mention several other advantages I derived from it, I shall only observe,
that about this time, and but a very few years after my Aedileship, I was
declared the first Praetor, by the unanimous suffrages of my fellow-
citizens. For, by my diligence and assiduity as a Pleader, and my accurate
way of speaking, which was rather superior to the ordinary style of the
Bar, the novelty of my Eloquence had engaged the attention, and secured
the good wishes of the public. But I will say nothing of myself: I will
confine my discourse to our other Speakers, among whom there is not one
who has gained more than a common acquaintance with those parts of
literature, which feed the springs of Eloquence:--not one who has been
thoroughly nurtured at the breast of Philosophy, which is the mother of
every excellence either in deed or speech:--not one who has acquired an
accurate knowledge of the Civil Law, which is so necessary for the
management even of private causes, and to direct the judgment of an
Orator:--not one who is a complete master of the Roman History, which
would enable us, on many occasions, to appeal to the venerable evidence of
the dead:--not one who can entangle his opponent in such a neat and
humourous manner, as to relax the severity of the Judges into a smile or
an open laugh:--not one who knows how to dilate and expand his subject, by
reducing it from the limited considerations of time, and person, to some
general and indefinite topic;--not one who knows how to enliven it by an
agreeable digression: not one who can rouse the indignation of the Judge,
or extort from him the tear of compassion;--or who can influence and bend
his soul (which is confessedly the capital perfection of an Orator) in
such a manner as shall best suit his purpose.

"When Hortensius, therefore, the once eloquent and admired Hortensius, had
almost vanished from the Forum, my appointment to the Consulship, which
happened about six years after his own promotion to that office, revived
his dying emulation; for he was unwilling that after I had equalled him in
rank and dignity, I should become his superior in any other respect. But
in the twelve succeeding years, by a mutual deference to each other's
abilities, we united our efforts at the Bar in the most amicable manner:
and my Consulship, which at first had given a short alarm to his jealousy,
afterward cemented our friendship, by the generous candor with which he
applauded my conduct. But our emulous efforts were exerted in the most
conspicuous manner, just before the commencement of that unhappy period,
when Eloquence herself was confounded and terrified by the din of arms
into a sudden and a total silence: for after Pompey had proposed and
carried a law, which allowed even the party accused but three hours to
make his defence, I appeared, (though comparatively as a mere _noviciate_
by this new regulation) in a number of causes which, in fact, were become
perfectly the same, or very nearly so; most of which, my Brutus, you was
present to hear, as having been my partner and fellow-advocate in many of
them, though you pleaded several by yourself; and Hortensius, though he
died a short time afterwards, bore his share in these limited efforts. He
began to plead about ten years before the time of your birth; and in his
sixty-fourth year, but a very few days before his death, he was engaged
with you in the defence of Appius, your father-in-law. As to our
respective talents, the Orations we have published will enable posterity
to form a proper judgment of them. But if we mean to inquire, why
Hortensius was more admired for his Eloquence in the younger part of his
life, than in his latter years, we shall find it owing to the following
causes. The first was, that an _Asiatic_ style is more allowable in a
young man than in an old one. Of this there are two different kinds.

"The former is sententious and sprightly, and abounds in those turns of
sentiment which are not so much distinguished by their weight and solidity
as by their neatness and elegance; of this cast was Timaeus the Historian,
and the two Orators so much talked of in our younger days, Hierocles the
Alabandean, and his brother Menecles, but particularly the latter; both
whose Orations may be reckoned master-pieces of the kind. The other sort
is not so remarkable for the plenty and richness of its sentiments, as for
its rapid volubility of expression, which at present is the ruling taste
in Asia; but, besides it's uncommon fluency, it is recommended by a choice
of words which are peculiarly delicate and ornamental:--of this kind were
Aeschylus the Cnidian, and my cotemporary Aeschines the Milesian; for they
had an admirable command of language, with very little elegance of
sentiment. These showy kinds of eloquence are agreeable enough in young
people; but they are entirely destitute of that gravity and composure
which befits a riper age. As Hortensius therefore excelled in both, he was
heard with applause in the earlier part of his life. For he had all that
fertility and graceful variety of sentiment which distinguished the
character of Menecles: but, as in Menecles, so in him, there were many
turns of sentiment which were more delicate and entertaining than really
useful, or indeed sometimes convenient. His language also was brilliant
and rapid, and yet perfectly neat and accurate; but by no means agreeable
to men of riper years. I have often seen it received by Philippus with the
utmost derision, and, upon some occasions, with a contemptuous
indignation: but the younger part of the audience admired it, and the
populace were highly pleased with it. In his youth, therefore, he met the
warmest approbation of the public, and maintained his post with ease as
the first Orator in the Forum. For the style he chose to speak in, though
it has little weight, or authority, appeared very suitable to his age: and
as it discovered in him the most visible marks of genius and application,
and was recommended by the numerous cadence of his periods, he was heard
with universal applause. But when the honours he afterwards rose to, and
the dignity of his years required something more serious and composed, he
still continued to appear in the same character, though it no longer
became him: and as he had, for some considerable time, intermitted those
exercises, and relaxed that laborious attention which had once
distinguished him, though his former neatness of expression, and
luxuriancy of sentiment still remained, they were stripped of those
brilliant ornaments they had been used to wear. For this reason, perhaps,
my Brutus, he appeared less pleasing to you than he would have done, if
you had been old enough to hear him, when he was fired with emulation and
flourished in the full bloom of his Eloquence.

"I am perfectly sensible," said Brutus, "of the justice of your remarks;
and yet I have always looked upon Hortensius as a great Orator, but
especially when he pleaded for Messala, in the time of your absence."--"I
have often heard of it," replied I, "and his Oration, which was afterwards
published, they say, in the very same words in which he delivered it, is
no way inferior to the character you give it. Upon the whole, then, his
reputation flourished from the time of Crassus and Scaevola (reckoning
from the Consulship of the former) to the Consulship of Paullus and
Marcellus: and I held out in the same career of glory from the
Dictatorship of Sylla, to the period I have last, mentioned. Thus the
Eloquence of Hortensius was extinguished by his _own_ death, and mine by
that of the Commonwealth."--"Ominate more favourably, I beg of you,"
cried Brutus.--"As favourably as you please," said I, "and that not so
much upon my own account, as your's. But _his_ death was truly fortunate,
who did not live to behold the miseries, which he had long foreseen. For
we often lamented, between ourselves, the misfortunes which hung over the
State, when we discovered the seeds of a civil war in the insatiable
ambition of a few private Citizens, and saw every hope of an accommodation
excluded by the rashness and precipitancy of our public counsels. But the
felicity which always marked his life, seems to have exempted him, by a
seasonable death, from the calamities that followed. But, as after the
decease of Hortensius, we seem to have been left, my Brutus, as the sole
guardians of an _orphan_ Eloquence, let us cherish her, within our own
walls at least, with a generous fidelity: let us discourage the addresses
of her worthless, and impertinent suitors; let us preserve her pure and
unblemished in all her virgin charms, and secure her, to the utmost of our
ability, from the lawless violence of every armed ruffian. I must own,
however, though I am heartily grieved that I entered so late upon the road
of life, as to be overtaken by a gloomy night of public distress, before I
had finished my journey; that I am not a little relieved by the tender
consolation which you administered to me in your very agreeable letters;--
in which you tell me I ought to recollect my courage, since my past
transactions are such as will speak for me when I am silent, and survive
my death,--and such as, if the Gods permit, will bear an ample testimony
to the prudence and integrity of my public counsels, by the final
restoration of the Republic:--or, if otherwise, by burying me in the
ruins of my country. But when I look upon _you_, my Brutus, it fills me
with anguish to reflect that, in the vigour of your youth, and when you
was making the most rapid progress in the road to fame, your career was
suddenly stopped by the fatal overthrow of the Commonwealth. This unhappy
circumstance has stung me to the heart; and not _me_ only; but my worthy
friend here, who has the same affection for you, and the same esteem for
your merit which I have. We have the warmest wishes for your happiness,
and heartily pray that you may reap the rewards of your excellent virtues,
and live to find a Republic in which you will be able, not only to revive,
but even to add to the fame of your illustrious ancestors. For the Forum
was your birth-right, your native theatre of action; and you was the only
person that entered it, who had not only formed his Elocution by a
rigorous course of private practice, but enriched his Oratory with the
furniture of philosophical Science, and thus united the highest virtue to
the most consummate Eloquence. Your situation, therefore, wounds us with
the double anxiety, that _you_ are deprived of the _Republic_, and the
Republic of _you_. But still continue, my Brutus, (notwithstanding the
career of your genius has been checked by the rude shock of our public
distresses) continue to pursue your favourite studies, and endeavour (what
you have almost, or rather intirely effected already) to distinguish
yourself from the promiscuous crowd of Pleaders with which I have loaded
the little history I have been giving you. For it would ill befit you,
(richly furnished as you are with those liberal Arts, which, unable to
acquire at home, you imported from that celebrated city which has always
been revered as the seat of learning) to pass after all as an ordinary
Pleader. For to what purposes have you studied under Pammenes, the most
eloquent man in Greece; or what advantage have you derived from the
discipline of _the old_ Academy, and it's hereditary master Aristus (my
guest, and very intimate acquaintance) if you still rank yourself in the
common class of Orators? Have we not seen that a whole age could scarcely
furnish two Speakers who really excelled in their profession? Among a
crowd of cotemporaries, Galba, for instance, was the only Orator of
distinction: for old Cato (we are informed) was obliged to yield to his
superior merit, as were likewise his two juniors Lepidus, and Carbo. But,
in a public Harangue, the style of his successors the Gracchi was far more
easy and lively: and yet, even in their time, the Roman Eloquence had not
reached its perfection. Afterwards came Antonius, and Crassus; and then
Cotta, Sulpicius, Hortensius, and--but I say no more: I can only add, that
if I had been so fortunate, &c, &c,"--[_Caetera defunt._]

And now first translated from the Original Latin.

"Song charms the Sense, but Eloquence the Soul."


Which, my Brutus, would be the most difficult talk,--to decline answering
a request which you have so often repeated, or to gratify it to your
satisfaction,--I have long been at a loss to determine. I should be
extremely sorry to deny any thing to a friend for whom I have the warmest
esteem, and who, I am sensible, has an equal affection for me;--
especially, as he has only desired me to undertake a subject which may
justly claim my attention. But to delineate a character, which it would be
very difficult, I will not say to _acquire_, but even to _comprehend_ in
its full extent, I thought was too bold an undertaking for him who reveres
the censure of the wife and learned. For considering the great diversity
of manner among the ablest Speakers, how exceedingly difficult must it be
to determine which is best, and give a finished model of Eloquence? This,
however, in compliance with your repeated solicitations, I shall now
attempt;--not so much from any hopes of succeeding, as from a strong
inclination to make the trial. For I had rather, by yielding to your
wishes, give you room to complain of my insufficiency; than, by a
peremptory denial, tempt you to question my friendship.

You desire to know, then, (and you have often repeated your request) what
kind of Eloquence I most approve, and can look upon to be so highly
finished, as to require no farther improvement. But should I be able to
answer your expectations, and display, in his full perfection, the Orator
you enquire after; I am afraid I shall retard the industry of many, who,
enfeebled by despair, will no longer attempt what they think themselves
incapable of attaining. It is but reasonable, however, that all those who
covet what is excellent, and which cannot be acquired without the greatest
application, should exert their utmost. But if any one is deficient in
capacity, and destitute of that admirable force of genius which Nature
bestows upon her favourites, or has been denied the advantages of a
liberal education, _let him make the progress he is able_. For while we
are driving to overtake the foremost, it is no disgrace to be found among
the _second_ class, or even the _third_. Thus, for instance, among the
poets, we respect the merit not only of a _Homer_ (that I may confine
myself to the Greeks) or of _Archilochus, Sophocles_, or _Pindar_, but of
many others who occupied the second, or even a lower place. In Philosophy
also the diffusive majesty of Plato has not deterred _Aristotle_ from
entering the list; nor has _Aristotle_ himself, with all his wonderful
knowledge and fertility of thought, disheartened the endeavours of others.
Nay, men of an elevated genius have not only disdained to be intimidated
from the pursuit of literary fame;--but the very artists and mechanics
have never relinquished their profession, because they were unable to
equal the beauty of that _Iasylus_ which we have seen at Rhodes, or of the
celebrated _Venus_ in the island of _Coos_:--nor has the noble image of
Olympian _Jove_, or the famous statue of the Man at Arms, deterred others
from making trial of their abilities, and exerting their skill to the
utmost. Accordingly, such a large number of them has appeared, and each
has performed so well in his own way, that we cannot help being pleased
with their productions, notwithstanding our admiration at the nobler
efforts of the great masters of the chissel.

But among the Orators, I mean those of Greece, it is astonishing how much
one of them has surpassed the rest:--and yet, though there was a
_Demosthenes_, there were even _then_ many other Orators of considerable
merit;--and such there were before he made his appearance, nor have they
been wanting since. There is, therefore, no reason why those who have
devoted themselves to the study of Eloquence, should suffer their hopes to
languish, or their industry to flag. For, in the first place, even that
which is most excellent is not to be despaired of;--and, in all worthy
attempts, that which is next to what is best is great and noble.

But in sketching out the character of a compleat Orator, it is possible I
may exhibit such a one as hath never _yet_ existed. For I am not to point
out the _Speaker_, but to delineate the _Eloquence_ than which nothing can
be more perfect of the kind:--an Eloquence which hath blazed forth through
a whole Harangue but seldom, and, it may be, never; but only here and
there like a transient gleam, though in some Orators more frequently, and
in others, perhaps, more sparingly.

My opinion, then, is,--that there is no human production of any kind, so
compleatly beautiful, than which there is not a _something_ still more
beautiful, from which the other is copied like a portrait from real life,
and which can be discerned neither by our eyes nor ears, nor any of our
bodily senses, but is visible only to thought and imagination. Though the
statues, therefore, of Phidias, and the other images above-mentioned, are
all so wonderfully charming, that nothing can be found which is more
excellent of the kind; we may still, however, _suppose_ a something which
is more exquisite, and more compleat. For it must not be thought that the
ingenious artist, when he was sketching out the form of a Jupiter, or a
Minerva, borrowed the likeness from any particular object;--but a certain
admirable semblance of beauty was present to his mind, which he viewed and
dwelt upon, and by which his skill and his hand were guided. As,
therefore, in mere bodily shape and figure there is a kind of perfection,
to whose ideal appearance every production which falls under the notice of
the eye is referred by imitation; so the semblance of what is perfect in
Oratory may become visible to the mind, and the ear may labour to catch a
likeness. These primary forms of thing are by Plato (the father of science
and good language) called _Ideas_; and he tells us they have neither
beginning nor end, but are co-eval with reason and intelligence; while
every thing besides has a derived, and a transitory existence, and passes
away and decays, so as to cease in a short time to be the thing it was.
Whatever, therefore, may be discussed by reason and method, should be
constantly reduced to the primary form or semblance of it's respective

I am sensible that this introduction, as being derived not from the
principles of Eloquence, but from the deepest recesses of Philosophy, will
excite the censure, or at least the wonder of many, who will think it both
unfashionable and intricate. For they will either be at a loss to discover
it's connection with my subject, (though they will soon be convinced by
what follows, that, if it appears to be far-fetched, it is not so without
reason;)--or they will blame me, perhaps, for deserting the beaten track,
and striking out into a new one. But I am satisfied that I often appear to
advance novelties, when I offer sentiments which are, indeed, of a much
earlier date, but happen to be generally unknown: and I frankly
acknowledge that I came forth an Orator, (if indeed I am one, or whatever
else I may be deemed) not from the school of the Rhetoricians, but from
the spacious walks of the Academy. For these are the theatres of
diversified and extensive arguments which were first impressed with the
foot-steps of Plato; and his Dissertations, with those of other
Philosophers, will be found of the greatest utility to an Orator, both for
his exercise and improvement; because all the fertility, and, as it were,
the materials of Eloquence, are to be derived from thence;--but not,
however, sufficiently prepared for the business of the Forum, which, as
themselves have frequently boasted, they abandoned to the _rustic Muses_
of the vulgar! Thus the Eloquence of the Forum, despised and rejected by
the Philosophers, was bereaved of her greatest advantages:--but,
nevertheless, being arrayed in all the brilliance of language and
sentiment, she made a figure among the populace, nor feared the censure of
the judicious few. By this means, the learned became destitute of a
popular Eloquence, and the Orators of polite learning.

We may, therefore, consider it as a capital maxim, (the truth of which
will be more easily understood in the sequel) that the eloquent Speaker we
are enquiring after, cannot be formed without the assistance of
Philosophy. I do not mean that this alone is sufficient; but only (for it
is sometimes necessary to compare great things to small) that it will
contribute to improve him in the same manner as the _Palaestra_ [Footnote:
The _Palaestra_ was a place set apart for public exercises, such as
wrestling, running, fencing, &c. the frequent performance of which
contributed much to a graceful carriage of the body, which is a necessary
accomplishment in a good Actor.] does an Actor; because without
Philosophy, no man can speak fully and copiously upon a variety of
important subjects which come under the notice of an Orator. Accordingly,
in the _Phaedrus_ of Plato, it is observed by Socrates that the great
_Pericles_ excelled all the Speakers of his time, because he had been a
hearer of _Anaxagoras_ the Naturalist, from whom he supposes that he not
only borrowed many excellent and sublime ideas, but a certain richness and
fertility of language, and (what in Eloquence is of the utmost
consequence) the various arts either of soothing or alarming each
particular passion. The same might be said of _Demosthenes_, whose letters
will satisfy us, how assiduously he attended the Lectures of Plato. For
without the instruction of Philosophy, we can neither discover what is the
_Genus_ or the _Species_ to which any thing belongs, nor explain the
nature of it by a just definition, or an accurate analysis of its parts;--
nor can we distinguish between what is true and false, or foresee the
consequences, point out the inconsistencies, and dissolve the ambiguities
which may lie in the case before us. But as to Natural Philosophy (the
knowledge of which will supply us with the richest treasures of
Elocution;)--and as to life, and it's various duties, and the great
principles of morality,--what is it possible either to express or
understand aright, without a large acquaintance with these? To such
various and important accomplishments we must add the innumerable
ornaments of language, which, at the time above mentioned, were the only
weapons which the Masters of Rhetoric could furnish. This is the reason
why that genuine, and perfect Eloquence we are speaking of, has been yet
attained by no one; because the Art of _Reasoning_ has been supposed to be
one thing, and that of _Speaking_ another; and we have had recourse to
different Instructors for the knowledge of things and words.

Antonius, [Footnote: A celebrated Orator, and grandfather to M. Antonius
The Triumvir.] therefore, to whom our ancestors adjudged the palm of
Eloquence, and who had much natural penetration and sagacity, has observed
in the only book he published, "_that he had seen many good Speakers, but
not a single Orator_." The full and perfect semblance of Eloquence had so
thoroughly possessed his mind, and was so completely visible there, though
no where exemplified in practice, that this consummate Genius, (for such,
indeed, he was) observing many defects in both himself and others, could
discover no one who merited the name of _eloquent_. But if he considered
neither himself, nor Lucius Crassus, as a genuine Orator, he must have
formed in his mind a sublime idea of Eloquence, under which, because there
was nothing wanting to compleat it, he could not comprehend those Speakers
who were any ways deficient. Let us then, my Brutus, (if we are able)
trace out the Orator whom Antonius never saw, and who, it may be, has
never yet existed; for though we have not the skill to copy his likeness
in real practice, (a talk which, in the opinion of the person above-
mentioned, would be almost too arduous for one of the Gods,) we may be
able, perhaps, to give some account of what he _ought_ to be.

Good Speaking, then, may be divided into three characters, in each of
which there are some who have made an eminent figure: but to be equally
excellent in all (which is what we require) has been the happiness of few.

The _lofty_ and _majestic_ Speaker, who distinguishes himself by the
energy of his sentiments, and the dignity of his expression, is
impetuous,--diversified,--copious,--and weighty,--and abundantly qualified
to alarm and sway the passions;--which some effect by a harsh, and a
rough, gloomy way of speaking, without any harmony or measure; and others,
by a smooth, a regular, and a well-proportioned style.

On the other hand, the _simple_ and _easy_ Speaker is remarkably dexterous
and keen, and aiming at nothing but our information, makes every thing he
discourses upon, rather clear and open than great and striking, and
polishes it with the utmost neatness and accuracy. But some of this kind
of Speakers, who are distinguished by their peculiar artificie, are
designedly unpolished, and appear rude and unskilful, that they may have
the better opportunity of deceiving us:--while others, with the same
poverty of style, are far more elegant and agreeable,--that is, they are
pleasant and facetious, and sometimes even florid, with here and there an
easy ornament.

But there is likewise a _middle_ kind of Oratory, between the two above-
mentioned, which neither has the keenness of the latter, nor hurls the
thunder of the former; but is a mixture of both, without excelling in
either, though at the same time it has something of each, or (perhaps,
more properly) is equally destitute of the true merit of both. This
species of Eloquence flows along in a uniform course, having nothing to
recommend it, but it's peculiar smoothness and equability; though at the
same time, it intermingles a number of decorations, like the tufts of
flowers in a garland, and embellishes a discourse from beginning to end
with the moderate and less striking ornaments of language and sentiment.

Those who have attained to any degree of perfection in either of the above
characters, have been distinguished as eminent Orators: but the question
is whether any of them have compassed what we are seeking after, and
succeeded equally in all. For there have been several who could speak
nervously and pompously, and yet, upon occasion, could express themselves
with the greates address, and simplicity. I wish I could refer to such an
Orator, or at least to one who nearly resembles him, among the Romans; for
it would certainly have been more to our credit to be able to refer to
proper examples of our own, and not be necessitated to have recourse to
the Greeks. But though in another treatis of mine, which bears the name of
_Brutus_, [Footnote: A very excellent Treatise in the form of a Dialogue.
It contains a critical and very instructive account of all the noted
Orators of _Greece_ and _Rome_ and might be called, with great propriety,
_the History of Eloquence_. Though it is perhaps the most entertaining of
all Cicero's performances, the Public have never been obliged before with
a translation of it into English; which, I hope, will sufficiently plead
my excuse for preforming to undertake it.] I have said much in favour of
the Romans, partly to excite their emulation, and, in some measure, from a
partial fondness for my country; yet I must always remember to give the
preference to _Demosthenes_, who alone has adapted his genius to that
perfect species of Eloquence of which I can readily form an idea, but
which I have never yet seen exemplified in practice. Than _him_, there has
never hitherto existed a more nervous, and at the same time, a more subtle
Speaker, or one more cool and temperate. I must, therefore, caution those
whose ignorant discourse is become so common, and who wish to pass for
_Attic_ Speakers, or at least to express themselves in the _Attic_ taste,
--I must caution them to take _him_ for their pattern, than whom it is
impossible that Athens herself should be more completely Attic: and, as to
genuine Atticism, that them learn what it means, and measure the force of
Eloquence, not by their own weakness and incapacity, but by his wonderful
energy and strength. For, at present, a person bestows his commendation
upon just so much as he thinks himself capable of imitating. I therefore
flatter myself that it will not be foreign to my purpose, to instruct
those who have a laudable emulation, but are not thoroughly settled in
their judgment, wherein the merit of an Attic Orator consists.

The taste of the Audience, then, has always governed and directed the
Eloquence of the Speaker: for all who wish to be applauded, consult the
character, and the inclinations of those who hear them, and carefully form
and accommodate themselves to their particular humours and dispositions.
Thus in Caria, Phrygia, and Mysia, because the inhabitants have no relish
for true elegance and politeness, the Orators have adopted (as most
agreeable to the ears of their audience) a luxuriant, and, if I may so
express myself, a corpulent style; which their neighbours the Rhodians,
who are only parted from them by a narrow straight, have never approved,
and much less the Greeks; but the Athenians have entirely banished it; for
their taste has always been so just and accurate that they could not
listen to any thing but what was perfectly correct and elegant. An Orator,
therefore, to compliment their delicacy, was forced to be always upon his
guard against a faulty or a distasteful expression.

Accordingly, _he_, whom we have just mentioned as surpassing the rest, has
been careful in his Oration for Ctesiphon, (which is the best he ever
composed) to set out very cooly and modestly: when he proceeds to argue
the point of law, he grows more poignant and pressing; and as he advances
in his defence, he takes still greater liberties; till, at last, having
warmed the passions of his Judges, he exults at his pleasure through the
reamining part of his discourse. But even in _him_, thus carefully
weighing and poising his every word _Aeschines_ [Footnote: _Aeschines_ was
a cotemporary, and a professed rival of Demosthenes. He carried his
animosity so far as to commence a litigious suit against him, at a time
when the reputation of the latter was at the lowest ebb. But being
overpowered by the Eloquence of Demosthenes, he was condemned to perpetual
banishment.] could find several expressions to turn into ridicule:--for
giving a loose to his raillery, he calls them harsh, and detestable, and
too shocking to be endured; and styling the author of them a very
_monster_, he tauntingly asks him whether such expressions could be
considered as _words_ or not rather as absolute _frights_ and _prodigies_.
So that to AEschines not even _Demosthenes_ himself was perfectly _Attic_;
for it is an easy matter to catch a _glowing_ expression, (if I may be
allowed to call it so) and expose it to ridicule when the fire of
attention is extinguished. Demosthenes, therefore, when he endeavours to
excuse himself, condescends to jest, and denies that the fortune of Greece
was in the least affected by the singularity of a particular expression,
or by his moving his hand either this way or that.

With what patience, then, would a Mysian or a Phrygian have been heard at
Athens, when even Demosthenes himself was reproached as a nuisance? But
should the former have begun his whining sing-song, after the manner of
the Asiatics, who would have endured it? or rather, who would not have
ordered him to be instantly torn from the Rostrum? Those, therefore, who
can accommodate themselves to the nice and critical ears of an Athenian
audience, are the only persons who should pretend to Atticism.

But though Atticism may be divided into several kinds, these mimic
Athenians suspect but one. They imagine that to discourse plainly, and
without any ornament, provided it be done correctly, and clearly, is the
only genuine Atticism. In confining it to this alone, they are certainly
mistaken; though when they tell us that this is really Attic, they are so
far in the right. For if the only true Atticism is what they suppose to
be, not even _Pericles_ was an Attic Speaker, though he was universally
allowed to bear away the palm of Eloquence; nor, if he had wholly attached
himself to this plain and simple kind of language, would he ever have been
said by the Poet Aristophanes _to thunder and lighten, and throw all
Greece into a ferment_.

Be it allowed, then, that Lysias, that graceful and most polite of

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