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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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proportioned. Some expressions it perceives to be imperfect, and
mutilated; and at these it is immediately offended, as if it was defrauded
of it's natural due. In others it discovers an immoderate length, and a
tedious superfluity of words; and with these it is still more disgusted
than with the former; for in this, as in most other cases, an excess is
always more offensive than a proportional defect. As versification,
therefore, and poetic competition was invented by the regulation of the
ear, and the successive observations of men of taste and judgment; so in
prose (though indeed long afterwards, but still, however, by the guidance
of nature) it was discovered that the career and compass of our language
should be adjusted and circumscribed within proper limits.

So much for the source, or natural origin of prosaic harmony. We must next
proceed (for that was the third thing proposed) to enquire into the nature
of it, and determine it's essential principles;--a subject which exceeds
the limits of the present essay, and would be more properly discussed in a
professed and accurate system of the art. For we might here inquire what
is meant by prosaic _number_, wherein it consists, and from whence it
arises; as likewise whether it is simple and uniform, or admits of any
variety, and in what manner it is formed, for what purpose, and when and
where it should be employed, and how it contributes to gratify the ear.
But as in other subjects, so in this, there are two methods of
disquisition;--the one more copious and diffusive, and the other more
concise, and, I might also add, more easy and comprehensible. In the
former, the first question which would occur is, whether there is any such
thing as _prosaic number_: some are of opinion there is not; because no
fixed and certain rules have been yet assigned for it, as there long have
been for poetic numbers; and because the very persons, who contend for
it's existence, have hitherto been unable to determine it. Granting,
however, that prose is susceptible of numbers, it will next be enquired of
what kind they are;--whether they are to be selected from those of the
poets, or from a different species;--and, if from the former, which of
them may claim the preference; for some authors admit only one or two, and
some more, while others object to none. We might then proceed to enquire
(be the number of them to be admitted, more or less) whether they are
equally common to every kind of style; for the narrative, the persuasive,
and the didactic have each a manner peculiar to itself; or whether the
different species of Oratory should be accommodated with their different
numbers. If the same numbers are equally common to all subjects, we must
next enquire what those numbers are; and if they are to be differently
applied, we must examine wherein they differ, and for what reason they are
not to be used so openly in prose as in verse. It might likewise be a
matter of enquiry, whether a _numerous_ style is formed entirely by the
use of numbers, or not also in some measure by the harmonious juncture of
our words, and the application of certain figurative forms of expression;
--and, in the next place, whether each of these has not its peculiar
province, so that number may regard the time or _quantity_, composition
the _sound_, and figurative expression the _form_ and _polish_ of our
language,--and yet, in fact, composition be the source and fountain of all
the rest, and give rise both to the varieties of _number_, and to those
figurative and luminous dashes of expression, which by the Greeks, as I
have before observed, are called ([Greek: _schaemaia_],) _attitudes_ or
_figures_. But to me there appears to be a real distinction between what
is agreeable in _sound_, exact in _measure_, and ornamental in the mode of
_expression_; though the latter, it must be owned, is very closely
connected with _number_, as being for the most part sufficiently numerous
without any labour to make it so: but composition is apparently different
from both, as attending entirely either to the _majestic_ or _agreeable_
sound of our words. Such then are the enquiries which relate to the
_nature_ of prosaic harmony.

From what has been said it is easy to infer that prose is susceptible of
_number_. Our sensations tell us so: and it would be excessively unfair to
reject their evidence, because we cannot account for the fact. Even poetic
metre was not discovered by any effort of reason, but by mere natural
taste and sensation, which reason afterwards correcting, improved and
methodized what had been noticed by accident; and thus an attention to
nature, and an accurate observation of her various feelings and sensations
gave birth to art. But in verse the use of _number_ is more obvious;
though some particular species of it, without the assistance of music,
have the air of harmonious prose, and especially the lyric poetry, and
that even the best of the kind, which, if divested of the aid of music,
would be almost as plain and naked as common language. We have several
specimens of this nature in our own poets [Footnote: It must here be
remarked, that the Romans had no lyric poet before _Horace_, who did not
flourish till after the times of _Cicero_.]; such as the following line in
the tragedy of _Thyestes_,

"_Quemnam te esse dicam? qui in tardā senectute_;

"Whom shall I call thee? who in tardy age," &c.;

which, unless when accompanied by the lyre, might easily be mistaken for
prose. But the iambic verses of the comic poets, to maintain a resemblance
to the style of conversation, are often so low and simple that you can
scarcely discover in them either number or metre; from whence it is
evident that it is more difficult to adapt numbers to prose than to verse.

There are two things, however, which give a relish to our language,--well-
chosen words, and harmonious _numbers_. Words may be considered as the
_materials_ of language, and it is the business of _number_ to smooth and
polish them. But as in other cases, what was invented to serve our
necessities was always prior to that which was invented for pleasure; so,
in the present, a rude and simple style which was merely adapted to
express our thoughts, was discovered many centuries before the invention
of _numbers_, which are designed to please the ear. Accordingly
_Herodotus_, and both his and the preceding age had not the least idea of
prosaic _number_, nor produced any thing of the kind, unless at random,
and by mere accident:--and even the ancient masters of rhetoric (I mean
those of the earliest date) have not so much as mentioned it, though they
have left us a multitude of precepts upon the conduct and management of
our style. For what is easiest, and most necessary to be known, is, for
that reason, always first discovered. Metaphors, therefore, and new-made
and compounded words, were easily invented, because they were borrowed
from custom and conversation: but _number_ was not selected from our
domestic treasures, nor had the least intimacy or connection with common
language; and, of consequence, not being noticed and understood till every
other improvement had been made, it gave the finishing grace, and the last
touches to the style of Eloquence.

As it may be remarked that one sort of language is interrupted by frequent
breaks and intermissions, while another is flowing and diffusive; it is
evident that the difference cannot result from the natural sounds of
different letters, but from the various combinations of long and short
syllables, with which our language, being differently blended and
intermingled, will be either dull and motionless, or lively and fluent; so
that every circumstance of this nature must be regulated by _number_. For
by the assistance of _numbers_, the _period_, which I have so often
mentioned before, pursues it's course with greater strength and freedom
till it comes to a natural pause. It is therefore plain that the style of
an Orator should be measured and harmonized by _numbers_, though entirely
free from verse; but whether these numbers should be the same as those of
the poets, or of a different species, is the next thing to be considered.
In my opinion there can be no sort of numbers but those of the poets;
because they have already specified all their different kinds with the
utmost precision; for every number may be comprized in the three following
varieties:--_viz_. a _foot_ (which is the measure we apply to numbers)
must be so divided, that one part of it will be either equal to the other,
or twice as long, or equal to three halves of it. Thus, in a _dactyl_
(breve-macron-macron) (long-short-short) the first syllable, which is the
former part of the foot, is equal to the two others, in the _iambic_
(macron-breve)(short-long) the last is double the first, and in the
_paeon_ (macron-macron-macron-breve, or breve-macron-macron-macron)(short-
short-short-long, or long-short-short-short) one of its parts, which is
the long syllable, is equal to two-thirds of the other. These are feet
which are unavoidably incident to language; and a proper arrangement of
them will produce a _numerous_ style.

But it will here be enquired, What numbers should have the preference? To
which I answer, They must all occur promiscuously; as is evident from our
sometimes speaking verse without knowing it, which in prose is reckoned a
capital fault; but in the hurry of discourse we cannot always watch and
criticise ourselves. As to _senarian_ and _hipponactic_ [Footnote: Verses
chiefly composed of iambics] verses, it is scarcely possible to avoid
them; for a considerable part, even of our common language, is composed of
_iambics_. To these, however, the hearer is easily reconciled; because
custom has made them familiar to his ear. But through inattention we are
often betrayed into verses which are not so familiar;--a fault which may
easily be avoided by a course of habitual circumspection. _Hieronymus_, an
eminent Peripatetic, has collected out of the numerous writings of
Isocrates about thirty verses, most of them senarian, and some of them
anapest, which in prose have a more disagreeable effect than any others.
But he quotes them with a malicious partiality: for he cuts off the first
syllable of the first word in a sentence, and annexes to the last word the
first syllable of the following sentence; and thus he forms what is called
an _Aristophanean_ anapest, which it is neither possible nor necessary to
avoid entirely. But, this redoubtable critic, as I discovered upon a
closer inspection, has himself been betrayed into a senarian or iambic
verse in the very paragraph in which he censures the composition of

Upon the whole, it is sufficiently plain that prose is susceptible of
_numbers_, and that the numbers of an Orator must be the same as those of
a Poet. The next thing to be considered is, what are the numbers which are
most suitable to his character, and, for that reason, should occur more
frequently than the rest? Some prefer the _Iambic_ (macron-breve)(short-
long) as approaching the nearest to common language; for which reason,
they say, it is generally made use of in fables and comedies, on account
of it's resemblance to conversation; and because the dactyl, which is the
favourite number of hexameters, is more adapted to a pompous style.
_Ephorus_, on the other hand, declares for the paeon and the dactyl; and
rejects the spondee and the trochee (long short). For as the paeon
has three short syllables, and the dactyl two, he thinks their shortness
and celerity give a brisk and lively flow to our language; and that a
different effect would be produced by the trochee and the spondee, the one
consisting of short syllables, and the other of long ones;--so that by
using the former, the current of our words would become too rapid, and too
heavy by employing the latter, losing, in either case, that easy
moderation which best satisfies the ear. But both parties seem to be
equally mistaken: for those who exclude the paeon, are not aware that they
reject the sweetest and fullest number we have. Aristotle was far from
thinking as they do: he was of opinion that heroic numbers are too
sonorous for prose; and that, on the other hand, the iambic has too much
the resemblance of vulgar talk:--and, accordingly, he recommends the style
which is neither too low and common, nor too lofty and extravagant, but
retains such a just proportion of dignity, as to win the attention, and
excite the admiration of the hearer. He, therefore, calls the _trochee_
(which has precisely the same quantity as the _choree_) _the rhetorical
jigg_ [Footnote: _Cordacem appellat_. The _cordax_ was a lascivious dance
very full of agitation.]; because the shortness and rapidity of it's
syllables are incompatible with the majesty of Eloquence. For this reason
he recommends the _paeon_, and says that every person makes use of it,
even without being sensible when he does so. He likewise observes that it
is a proper medium between the different feet above-mentioned:--the
proportion between the long and short syllables, in every foot, being
either sesquiplicate, duple, or equal.

The authors, therefore, whom I mentioned before attended merely to the
easy flow of our language, without any regard to it's dignity. For the
iambic and the dactyl are chiefly used in poetry; so that to avoid
versifying in prose, we must shun, as much as possible, a continued
repetition of either; because the language of prose is of a different
cast, and absolutely incompatible with verse. As the paeon, therefore, is
of all other feet the most improper for poetry, it may, for that reason be
more readily admitted into prose. But as to _Ephorus_, he did not reflect
that even the _spondee_, which he rejects, is equal in time to his
favourite dactyl; because he supposed that feet were to be measured not by
the quantity, but the number of their syllables;--a mistake of which he is
equally guilty when he excludes the _trochee_, which, in time and
quantity, is precisely equal to the iambic; though it is undoubtedly
faulty at the end of a period, which always terminates more agreeably in a
long syllable than a short one. As to what Aristotle has said of the
_paeon_, the same has likewise been said by _Theophrastus_ and

But, for my part, I am rather of opinion that our language should be
intermingled and diversified with all the varieties of number; for should
we confine ourselves to any particular feet, it would be impossible to
escape the censure of the hearer; because our style should neither be so
exactly measured as that of the poets, nor entirely destitute of number,
like that of the common people. The former, as being too regular and
uniform, betrays an appearance of art; and the other, which is as much too
loose and undetermined, has the air of ordinary talk; so that we receive
no pleasure from the one, and are absolutely disgusted with the other. Our
style, therefore, as I have just observed, should be so blended and
diversified with different numbers, as to be neither too vague and
unrestrained, nor too openly numerous, but abound most in the paeon (so
much recommended by the excellent author above-mentioned) though still in
conjunction with many other feet which he entirely omits.

But we must now consider what number like so many dashes of purple, should
tincture and enrich the rest, and to what species of style they are each
of them best adapted. The iambic, then, should be the leading number in
those subjects which require a plain and simple style;--the paeon in such
as require more compass and elevation; and the dactyl is equally
applicable to both. So that in a discourse of any length and variety, it
will be occasionally necessary to blend and intermingle them all. By this
means, our endeavours to modulate our periods, and captivate the ear, will
be most effectually concealed; especially, if we maintain a suitable
dignity both of language and sentiment. For the hearer will naturally
attend to these (I mean our words and sentiments) and to them alone
attribute the pleasure he receives; so that while he listens to these with
admiration, the harmony of our numbers will escape his notice: though it
must indeed be acknowledged that the former would have their charms
without the assistance of the latter. But the flow of our numbers is not
to be so exact (I mean in prose, for in poetry the case is different) as
that nothing may exceed the bounds of regularity; for this would be to
compose a poem. On the contrary, if our language neither limps nor
fluctuates, but keeps an even and a steady pace, it is sufficiently
_numerous_; and it accordingly derives the title, not from its consisting
entirely of numbers, but from its near approach to a numerous form. This
is the reason why it is more difficult to make elegant prose, than to make
verses; because there are fixed and invariable rules for the latter;
whereas nothing is determined in the former, but that the current of our
language should be neither immoderate nor defective, nor loose and
unconfined. It cannot be supposed, therefore, to admit of regular beats
and divisions, like a piece of music; but it is only necessary that the
general compass and arrangement of our words should be properly restrained
and limited,--a circumstance which must be left entirely to the decision
of the ear.

Another question which occurs before us, is--whether an attention to our
numbers should be extended to every part of a sentence, or only to the
beginning and the end. Most authors are of opinion that it is only
necessary that our periods should end well, and have a numerous cadence.
It is true, indeed, that this ought to be principally attended to, but not
solely: for the whole compass of our periods ought likewise to be
regulated, and not totally neglected. As the ear, therefore, always
directs it's view to the close of a sentence, and there fixes it's
attention, it is by no means proper that this should be destitute of
_number_: but it must also be observed that a period, from it's first
commencement, should run freely on, so as to correspond to the conclusion;
and the whole advance from the beginning with such an easy flow, as to
make a natural, and a kind of voluntary pause. To those who have been
we'll practised in the art, and who have both written much; and often
attempted to discourse _extempore_ with the same accuracy which they
observe in their writings, this will be far less difficult than is
imagined. For every sentence is previously formed and circumscribed in the
mind of the Speaker, and is then immediately attended by the proper words
to express it, which the same mental faculty (than which there is nothing
more lively and expeditious) instantly dismisses, and sends off each to
its proper post: but, in different sentences, their particular order and
arrangement will be differently terminated; though, in every sentence, the
words both in the beginning and the middle of it, should have a constant
reference to the end. Our language, for instance, must sometimes advance
with rapidity, and at other times it's pace must be moderate and easy; so
that it will be necessary at the very beginning of a sentence, to resolve
upon the manner in which you would have it terminate; but we must avoid
the least appearance of poetry, both in our numbers, and in the other
ornaments of language; though it is true, indeed, that the labours of the
Orator must be conducted on the same principles as those of the Poet. For
in each we have the same materials to work upon, and a similar art of
managing them; the materials being words, and the art of managing them
relating, in both cases, to the manner in which they ought to be disposed.
The words also in each may be divided into three classes,--the
__metaphorical_,--the new-coined,--and the antique;--for at present we
have no concern with words _proper_:--and three parts may also be
distinguished in the art of disposing them; which, I have already
observed, are _juncture_, _concinnity_, and _number_. The poets make use
both of one and the other more frequently, and with greater liberty than
we do; for they employ the _tropes_ not only much oftener, but more boldly
and openly; and they introduce _antique_ words with a higher taste, and
new ones with less reserve. The same may be said in their numbers, in the
use of which they are subjected to invariable rules, which they are
scarcely ever allowed to transgress. The two arts, therefore, are to be
considered neither as wholly distinct, nor perfectly conjoined. This is
the reason why our numbers are not to be so conspicuous in prose as in
verse; and that in prose, what is called a _numerous_ style, does not
always become so by the use of numbers, but sometimes either by the
concinnity of our language, or the smooth juncture of our words.

To conclude this head; If it should be enquired, "What are the numbers to
be used in prose?" I answer, "_All_; though some are certainly better, and
more adapted to it's character than others."--If "_Where_ is their proper
seat?"--"In the different quantity of our syllables:"--If "From whence
their _origin_?"--"From the sole pleasure of the ear:"--If "What the
method of blending and intermingling them?"--"This shall be explained in
the sequel, because it properly relates to the manner of using them, which
was the fourth and last article in my division of the subject." If it be
farther enquired, "For what purpose they are employed?" I answer,--"To
gratify the ear:"--If "_When_?" I reply, "At all times:"--If "In what part
of a sentence?" "Through the whole length of it:"--and if "What is the
circumstance which gives them a pleasing effect?" "The same as in poetical
compositions, whose metre is regulated by art, though the ear alone,
without the assistance of art, can determine it's limits by the natural
powers of sensation." Enough, therefore, has been said concerning the
nature and properties of _number_. The next article to be considered is
the manner in which our numbers should be employed,--a circumstance which
requires to be accurately discussed.

Here it is usual to enquire, whether it is necessary to attend to our
numbers through the whole compass of a period, [Footnote: Our author here
informs us, that what the Greeks called [Greek: periodos], a _period_, was
distinguished among the Romans by the words _ambitus, circuitus,
comprehensio, continuatio_, and _circumscriptio_. As I thought this remark
would appear much better in the form of a note, than in the body of the
work, I have introduced it accordingly.] or only at the beginning or end
of it, or equally in both. In the next place, as _exact number_ seems to
be one thing, and that which is merely _numerous_ another, it might be
enquired wherein lies the difference. We might likewise consider whether
the members of a sentence should all indifferently be of the same length,
whatever be the numbers they are composed of;--or whether, on this
account, they should not be sometimes longer, and sometimes shorter;--and
when, and for what reasons, they should be made so, and of what numbers
they should be composed;--whether of several sorts, or only of one; and
whether of equal or unequal numbers;--and upon what occasions either the
one or the other of these are to be used;-and what numbers accord best
together, and in what order; or whether, in this respect, there is no
difference between them;--and (which has still a more immediate reference
to our subject) by what means our style may be rendered _numerous_. It
will likewise be necessary to specify the rise and origin of a
_periodical_ form of language, and what degree of compass should be
allowed to it. After this, we may consider the members or divisions of a
period, and enquire of how many kinds, and of what different lengths they
are; and, if they vary in these respects, _where_ and _when_ each
particular sort is to be employed: and, in the last place, the _use_ and
application of the whole is to be fully explained;--a very extensive
subject, and which is capable of being accommodated not only to one, but
to many different occasions. But without adverting to particulars, we may
discuss the subject at large in such a manner as to furnish a satisfactory
answer in all subordinate cases.

Omitting, therefore, every other species of composition, we shall attend
to that which is peculiar to forensic causes. For in those performances
which are of a different kind, such as history, panegyric, and all
discourses which are merely ornamental, every sentence should be
constructed after the exact manner of _Isocrates_ and _Theopompus_; and
with that regular compass, and measured flow of language, that our words
may constantly run within the limits prescribed by art, and pursue a
uniform course, till the period is completed. We may, therefore, observe
that after the invention of this, _periodical_ form, no writer of any
account has made a discourse which was intended as a mere display of
ornament, and not for the service of the Forum, without _squaring_ his
language, (if I may so express myself) and confining every sentence of it
to the strictest laws of _number_. For as, in this case, the hearer has no
motive to alarm his suspicions against the artifice of the speaker, he
will rather think himself obliged to him than otherwise, for the pains he
takes to amuse and gratify his ear. But, in forensic causes, this accurate
species of composition is neither to be wholly adopted, nor entirely
rejected. For if we pursue it too closely, it will create a satiety, and
our attention to it will be discovered by the most illiterate observer. We
may add, it will check the pathos and force of action, restrain the
sensibility of the Speaker, and destroy all appearance of truth and open
dealing. But as it will sometimes be necessary to adopt it, we must
consider _when_, and _how long_, this ought to be done, and how many ways
it may be changed and varied.

A _numerous_ style, then, may be properly employed, either when any thing
is to be commended in a free and ornamental manner, (as in my second
Invective against _Verres_, where I spoke in praise of _Sicily_, and in my
Speech before the Senate, in which I vindicated the honour of my
consulship;)--or; in the next place, when a narrative is to be delivered
which requires more dignity than pathos, (as in my fourth Invective, where
I described the Ceres of the Ennensians, the Diana of the Segestani, and
the situation of Syracuse.) It is likewise often allowable to speak in a
numerous and flowing style, when a material circumstance is to be
amplified. If I myself have not succeeded in this so well as might be
wished, I have at least attempted it very frequently; and it is still
visible in many of my Perorations, that I have exerted all the talents I
was master of for that purpose. But this will always have most efficacy,
when the Speaker has previously possessed himself of the hearer's
attention, and got the better of his judgment. For then he is no longer
apprehensive of any artifice to mislead him; but hears every thing with a
favourable ear, wishes the Orator to proceed, and, admiring the force of
his Eloquence, has no inclination to censure it.

But this measured and numerous flow of language is never to be continued
too long, I will not say in the peroration, (of which the hearer himself
will always be a capable judge) but in any other part of a discourse: for,
except in the cases above-mentioned, in which I have shewn it is
allowable, our style must be wholly confined to those clauses or divisions
which we erroneously call _incisa_ and _membra_; but the Greeks, with more
propriety, the _comma_ and _colon_ [Footnote: The ancients apply these
terms to the sense, and not to any points of distinction. A very short
member, whether simple or compound, with them is a _comma_; and a longer,
a _colon_; for they have no such term as a _semicolon_. Besides, they call
a very short sentence, whether simple or compound, a _comma_; and one of
somewhat a greater length, a _colon_. And therefore, if a person expressed
himself either of these ways, in any considerable number of sentences
together, he was said to speak by _commas_, or _colons_. But a sentence
containing more words than will consist with either of these terms, they
call a simple _period_; the least compound period with them requiring the
length of two colons.

Ward's Rhetoric, volume 1st, page 344.]. For it is impossible that the
names of things should be rightly applied, when the things themselves are
not sufficiently understood: and as we often make use of metaphorical
terms, either for the sake of ornament, or to supply the place of proper
ones, so in other arts, when we have occasion to mention any thing which
(through our unacquaintance with it) has not yet received a name, we are
obliged either to invent a new one, or to borrow it from something
similar. We shall soon consider what it is to speak in _commas_ and
_colons_, and the proper method of doing it: but we must first attend to
the various numbers by which the cadence of our periods should be

Our numbers will advance more rapidly by the use of short feet, and more
coolly and sedately by the use of long ones. The former are best adapted
to a warm and spirited style, and the latter to sober narratives and
explanations. But there are several numbers for concluding a period, one
of which (called the _dichoree_, or double _choree_, and consisting of a
long and a short syllable repeated alternately) is much in vogue with the
Asiatics; though among different people the same feet are distinguished by
different names. The _dichoree_, indeed, is not essentially bad for the
close of a sentence: but in prosaic numbers nothing can be more faulty
than a continued or frequent repetition of the same cadence: as the
_dichoree_, therefore, is a very sonorous number, we should be the more
sparing in the use of it, to prevent a satiety. _C. Carbo_, the son of
_Caius_, and a Tribune of the people, once said in a public trial in which
I was personally engaged,--"_O Marce Druse, Patrem appello_;" where you
may observe two _commas_, each consisting of two feet. He then made use of
the two following _colons_, each consisting of three feet,--"_Tu dicere
solebas, sacram esse Rempublicam:"--and afterwards of the period,--
"_Quicunque eam violavissent, ab omnibus esse ei poenas persolutas_" which
ends with a _dichoree_; for it is immaterial whether the last syllable is
long or short. He added, "_Patris dictum sapiens, temeritas filii
comprobavit_" concluding here also with a _dichoree_; which was received
with such a general burst of applause, as perfectly astonished me. But was
not this the effect of _number_?--Only change the order of the words, and
say,--"_Comprobavit filii temeritas_" and the spirit of them will be lost,
though the word _temeritas_ consists of three short syllables and a long
one, which is the favourite number of Aristotle, from whom, however, I
here beg leave to dissent. The words and sentiments are indeed the fame in
both cases; and yet, in the latter, though the understanding is satisfied,
the ear is not. But these harmonious cadences are not to be repeated too
often: for, in the first place, our _numbers_ will be soon discovered,--in
the next, they will excite the hearer's disgust,--and, at last, be
heartily despised on account of the apparent facility with which they are

But there are several other cadences which will have a numerous and
pleasing effect: for even the _cretic_, which consists of a long, a short,
and a long syllable, and it's companion the _paeon_, which is equal to it
in quantity, though it exceeds it in the number of syllables, is reckoned
a proper and a very useful ingredient in harmonious prose: especially as
the latter admits of two varieties, as consisting either of one long and
three short syllables, which will be lively enough at the beginning of a
sentence, but extremely flat at the end;--or of three short syllables and
a long one, which was highly approved of by the ancients at the _close_ of
a sentence, and which I would not wholly reject, though I give the
preference to others. Even the sober _spondee_ is not to be entirely
discarded; for though it consists of two long syllables, and for that
reason may seem rather dull and heavy, it has yet a firm and steady step,
which gives it an air of dignity, and especially in the _comma_ and the
_colon_; so that it sufficiently compensates for the slowness of it's
motion, by it's peculiar weight and solemnity. When I speak of feet at the
close of a period, I do not mean precisely the last. I would be
understood, at least, to include the foot which immediately precedes it;
and, in many cases, even the foot before _that_. The _iambic_, therefore,
which consists of a long syllable and a short one, and is equal in time,
though not in the number of it's syllables, to a _choree_, which has three
short ones; or even the _dactyl_, which consists of one long and two short
syllables, will unite agreeably enough with the last foot of a sentence,
when that foot is either a _choree_ or a _spondee_; for it is immaterial
which of them is employed. But the three feet I am mentioning, are neither
of them very proper for closing a period, (that is, to form the last foot
of it) unless when a _dactyl_ is substituted for a _cretic_, for you may
use either of them at pleasure; because, even in verse, it is of no
consequence whether the last syllable is long or short. He, therefore, who
recommended the _paeon_, as having the long syllable last, was certainly
guilty of an oversight; because the quantity of the last syllable is never
regarded. The _paeon_, however, as consisting of four syllables, is
reckoned by some to be only a _number_, and not a _foot_. But call it
which you please, it is in general, what all the ancients have represented
it, (such as _Aristotle, Theophrastus, Theodectes_, and _Euphorus_) the
fittest of all others both for the beginning and the middle of a period.
They are likewise of opinion, that it is equally proper at the end; where,
in my opinion, the _cretic_ deserves the preference. The _dochimus_, which
consists of five syllables, (i.e. a short and two long ones, and a short,
and a long one, as in _amicos tenes_) may be used indifferently in any
part of a sentence, provided it occurs but once: for if it is continued or
repeated, our attention to our numbers will be discovered, and alarm the
suspicion of the hearer. On the other hand, if we properly blend and
intermingle the several varieties above-mentioned, our design will not be
so readily noticed; and we shall also prevent that satiety which would
arise from an elaborate uniformity of cadence.

But the harmony of language does not result entirely from the use of
_numbers_, but from the _juncture_ and _composition_ of our words; and
from that neatness and _concinnity_ of expression which I have already
mentioned. By _composition_, I here mean when our words are so judiciously
connected as to produce an agreeable sound (independent of _numbers_)
which rather appears to be the effect of nature than of art; as in the
following passage from Crassus, _Nam ubi lubido dominatur, innocentiae
leve praesidium est_ [Footnote: In the sentence which is here quoted from
Crassus, every word which ends with a consonant is immediately succeeded
by another which begins with a vowel; and, _vice versa_, if the preceding
word ends with a vowel, the next begins with a consonant.]: for here the
mere order in which the words are connected, produces a harmony of sound,
without any visible attention of the Speaker. When the ancients,
therefore, (I mean _Herodotus_, and _Thucydides_, and all who flourished
in the same age) composed a numerous and a musical period, it must rather
be attributed to the casual order of their words, than to the labour and
artifice of the writer.

But there are likewise certain forms of expression, which have such a
natural concinnity, as will necessarily have a similar effect to that of
regular numbers. For when parallel circumstances are compared, or opposite
ones contrasted, or words of the same termination are placed in a regular
succesion, they seldom fail to produce a numerous cadence. But I have
already treated of these, and subjoined a few examples; so that we are
hereby furnished with an additional and a copious variety of means to
avoid the uniformity of cadence above-mentioned; especially as these
measured forms of expression may be occasionally relaxed and dilated.
There is, however, a material difference between a style which is merely
_numerous_, (or, in other words, which has a moderate resemblance to
_metre_) and that which is entirely composed of _numbers_: the latter is
an insufferable fault; but our language, without the former, would be
absolutely vague, unpolished, and dissipated.

But as a numerous style (strictly so called) is not frequently, and indeed
but seldom admissible in forensic causes,--it seems necessary to enquire,
in the next place, what are those _commas_ and _colons_ before-mentioned,
and which, in real causes, should occupy the major part of an Oration. The
_period_, or complete sentence, is usually composed of four divisions,
which are called _members_, (or _colons_) that it may properly fill the
ear, and be neither longer nor shorter than is requisite for that purpose.
But it sometimes, or rather frequently happens, that a sentence either
falls short of, or exceeds the limits of a regular period, to prevent it
from fatiguing the ear on the one hand, or disappointing it on the other.
What I mean is to recommend an agreeable mediocrity: for we are not
treating of verse, but of rhetorical prose, which is confessedly more free
and unconfined. A full period, then, is generally composed of four parts,
which may be compared to as many hexameter verses, each of which have
their proper points, or particles of continuation, by which they are
connected so as to form a perfect period. But when we speak by _colons_,
we interupt their union, and, as often as occasion requires (which indeed
will frequently be the case) break off with ease from this laboured and
suspicious flow of language; but yet nothing should be so numerous in
reality as that which appears to be least so, and yet has a forcible
effect. Such is the following passage in Crassus:--"_Missos faciant
patronos; ipsi prodeant_." "Let them dismiss their patrons: let them
answer for themselves." Unless "_ipsi prodeant_" was pronounced after a
pause, the hearer must have discovered a complete iambic verse. It would
have had a better cadence in prose if he had said "_prodeant ipsi_." But I
am only to consider the species, and not the cadence of the sentence. He
goes on, "_Cur clandestinis consiliis nos oppugnant? cur de perfugis
nostris copias comparant contra nos_?" "Why do they attack us by
clandestine measures? why do they collect forces against us from our own
deserters?" In the former passage there are two _commas_: in the latter he
first makes use of the _colon_, and afterwards of the _period_: but the
period is not a long one, as only consisting of two _colons_, and the
whole terminates in _spondees_. In this manner Crassus generally expressed
himself; and I much approve his method. But when we speak either in
_commas_, or _colons_, we should be very attentive to the harmony of their
cadence: as in the following instance.--"_Domus tibi deerat? at habebas.
Pecunia superabat? at egebas_." "Was you without a habitation? You had a
house of your own. Was your pocket well provided? You was not master of a
farthing." These are four _commas_; but the two following members are both
_colons_;--"_Incurristi omens in columnas, in alienos insanus insanisti_."

"You rushed like a madman upon your best supporters; you vented your fury
on your enemies withput mercy." The whole is afterwards supported by a
full period, as by a solid basis;--"Depressam, caecam, jacentem domum,
pluris quam te, et fortunas tuas aestimāsti." "You have shewn more regard
to an unprosperous, an obscure, and a fallen family, than to your own
safety and reputation." This sentence ends with a _dichoree_, but the
preceeding one in a _double spondee_. For in those sentences which are to
be used like daggers for close-fighting, their very shortness makes our
numbers less exceptionable. They frequently consist of a single number;--
generally of _two_, with the addition perhaps of half a foot to each: and
very seldom of more than three. To speak in _commas_ or _colons_ has a
very good effect in real causes; and especially in those parts of an
Oration where it is your business either to prove or refute: as in my
second defence of Cornelius, where I exclaimed, "O callidos homines! O rem
excogitatam! O ingenia metuenda!" "What admirable schemers! what a curious
contrivance! what formidable talents!" Thus far I spoke in _colons_; and
afterwards by _commas_; and then returned to the colon, in "_Testes dare
volumus_," "We are willing to produce our witnesses." This was succeeded
by the following _period_, consisting of two _colons_, which is the
shortest that can be formed,--"_Quem, quaeso, nostrūm sesellit ita vos
esse facturos?_" "Which of us, think you, had not the sense to foresee
that you would proceed in this manner?"

There is no method of expressing ourselves which, if properly timed, is
more agreeable or forcible, than these rapid turns, which are completed in
two or three words, and sometimes in a single one; especially, when they
are properly diversified, and intermingled here and there with a
_numerous_ period; which _Egesias_ avoids with such a ridiculous nicety,
that while he affects to imitate _Lysias_ (who was almost a second
_Demosthenes_) he seems to be continually cutting capers, and clipping
sentence after sentence. He is as frivolous in his sentiments as in his
language: so that no person who is acquainted with his writings, need to
seek any farther for a coxcomb. But I have selected several examples from
Crassus, and a few of my own, that any person, who is so inclined, may
have an opportunity of judging with his own ears, what is really
_numerous_, as well in the shortest as in any other kind of sentences.

Having, therefore, treated of a _numerous_ style more copiously than any
author before me, I shall now proceed to say something of it's _utility_.
For to speak handsomely, and like an Orator (as no one, my Brutus, knows
better than yourself) is nothing more than to express the choicest
sentiments in the finest language. The noblest thoughts will be of little
service to an orator, unless he is able to communicate them in a correct
and agreeable style: nor will the splendor of our expressions appear to a
proper advantage, unless they are carefully and judiciously ranged. Permit
me to add, that the beauty of both will be considerably heightened by the
harmony of our numbers:--such numbers (for I cannot repeat it too often)
as are not only not cemented together, like those of the poets, but which
avoid all appearance of metre, and have as little resemblance to it as
possible; though it is certainly true that the numbers themselves are the
same, not only of the Poets and Orators, but of all in general who
exercise the faculty of speech, and, indeed, of every instrument which
produces a sound whose time can be measured by the ear. It is owing
entirely to the different arrangement of our feet that a sentence assumes
either the easy air of prose, or the uniformity of verse. Call it,
therefore, by what name you please (_Composition, Perfection_, or
_Number_) it is a necessary restraint upon our language; not only (as
_Aristotle_ and _Theophrastus_ have observed) to prevent our sentences
(which should be limited neither by the breath of the speaker, nor the
pointing of a transcriber, but by the sole restraint of _number_) from
running on without intermission like a babbling current of water; but
chiefly, because our language, when properly measured, has a much greater
effect than when it is loose and unconfined. For as Wrestlers and
Gladiators, whether they parry or make an assault, have a certain grace in
their motions, so that every effort which contributes to the defence or
the victory of the combatants, presents an agreeable attitude to the eye:
so the powers of language can neither give nor evade an important blow,
unless they are gracefully exerted. That style, therefore, which is not
regulated by _numbers_, is to me as unbecoming as the motions of a
Gladiator who has not been properly trained and exercised: and so far is
our language from being _enervated_ by a skilful arrangement of our words
(as is pretended by those who, for want either of proper instructors,
capacity, or diligence, have not been able to attain it) that, on the
contrary, without this, it is impossible it should have any force or

But it requires a long and attentive course of practice to avoid the
blemishes of those who were unacquainted with this numerous species of
composition, so as not to transpose our words too openly to assist the
cadence and harmony of our periods; which _L. Caelius Antipater_, in the
Introduction to his Punic War, declares he would never attempt, unless
when compelled by necessity. "_O virum simplicem_," (says he, speaking of
himself) "_qui nos nihil celat; sapientem, qui serviendum necessitati
putet_." "O simple man, who has not the skill his art to conceal; and yet
to the rigid laws of necessity he has the wisdom to submit." But he was
totally unskilled in composition. By us, however, both in writing and
speaking, necessity is never admitted as a valid plea; for, in fact, there
is no such thing as an absolute constraint upon the order and arrangement
of our words; and, if there was, it is certainly unnecessary to own it.
But _Antipater_, though he requests the indulgence of Laelius, to whom he
dedicates his work, and attempts to excuse himself, frequently transposes
his words without contributing in the least either to the harmony, or
agreeable cadence of his periods.

There are others, and particularly the _Asiatics_, who are such slaves to
_number_, as to insert words which have no use nor meaning to fill up the
vacuities in a sentence. There are likewise some who, in imitation of
_Hegesias_ (a notorious trifler as well in this as in every other respect)
curtail and mince their numbers, and are thus betrayed into the low and
paltry style of the Sicilians. Another fault in composition is that which
occurs in the speeches of _Hierocles_ and _Menecles_, two brothers, who
may be considered as the princes of Asiatic Eloquence, and, in my opinion,
are by no means contemptible: for though they deviate from the style of
nature, and the strict laws of Atticism, yet they abundantly compensate
the defect by the richness and fertility of their language. But they have
no variety of cadence, and their sentences are almost always terminated in
the same manner. He therefore, who carefully avoids these blemishes, and
who neither transposes his words too openly,--nor inserts any thing
superfluous or unmeaning to fill up the chasms of a period,--nor curtails
and clips his language, so as to interrupt and enervate the force of it,--
nor confines himself to a dull uniformity of cadence,--_he_ may justly be
said to avoid the principal and most striking defects of prosaic harmony.
As to its positive graces, these we have already specified; and from
thence the particular blemishes which are opposite to each, will readily
occur to the attentive reader.

Of what consequence it is to regulate the structure of our language, may
be easily tried by selecting a well-wrought period from some Orator of
reputation, and changing the arrangement of the words; [Footnote:
Professor _Ward_ has commented upon an example of this kind from the
preface to the Vth volume of the Spectator:--"_You have acted in so much
consistency with yourself, and promoted the interests of your country in
so uniform a manner; that even those, who would misrepresent your generous
designs for the public good, cannot but approve the steadiness and
intredipity, with which you pursue them_." I think, says the Doctor, this
may be justly esteemed an handsome period. It begins with ease, rises
gradually till the voice is inflected, then sinks again, and ends with a
just cadency, And perhaps there is not a word in it, whole situation would
be altered to an advantage. Let us now but shift the place of one word in
the last member, and we shall spoil the beauty of the whole sentence. For
if, instead of saying, as it now stands, _cannot but approve the
steadiness and intrepidity, with which you pursue them_; we put it thus,
_cannot but approve the steadiness and intrepidity which you pursue them
with_; the cadency will be flat and languid, and the harmony of the period
entirely lost. Let us try it again by altering the place of the two last
members, which at present stand in this order, _that even those who would
misrepresent your generous designs for the public good, cannot but approve
the steadiness and intrepidity, with which you pursue them_. Now if the
former member be thrown last, they will run thus, _that even those cannot
but approve the steadiness and intrepidity, with which you pursue them,
who would misrepresent your generous designs for the public good_. Here
the sense is much obscured by the inversion of the relative _them_, which
ought to refer to something that went before, and not to the words
_generous designs_, which in this situation of the members are placed
after it. WARD'S Rhetoric. Vol. 1, p. 338, 339.] the beauty of it would
then be mangled and destroyed. Suppose, for instance, we take the
following passage from my Defence of _Cornelius,--"Neque me divitae
movent, quibus omnes Africanos et Laelios, multi venalitii mercatoresque
superarunt._" "Nor am I dazzled by the splendor of wealth, in which many
retailers, and private tradesmen have outvied all the _Africani_ and the
_Lelii_" Only invert the order a little, and say,--"_Multi superārunt
mercatores, venatitiique_," and the harmony of the period will be loft.
Try the experiment on the next sentence;--"_Neque vestes, aut celatum
aurum, & argentum, quo nostros veteres Marcellos, Maximosque multi eunuchi
e Syriā Egyptoque vicerunt_:" Nor do. I pay the least regard to costly
habits, or magnificent services of plate, in which many eunuchs, imported
from Syria and Egypt, have far surpassed the illustrious _Marcelli_, and
the _Maximi_. Alter the disposition of the words into, "_vicerunt eunuchi
e Syria, Egyptoque,_" and the whole beauty of the sentence will be
destroyed. Take a third passage from the same paragraph;--"_Neque vero
ornamenta ista villarum, quibus Paulum & L. Mummium, qui rebus his urbem,
Italiamque omnem reserserunt, ab aliquo video perfacile Deliaco aut Syro
potuisse superari:"--"Nor the splendid ornaments of a rural villa, in
which I daily behold every paltry Delian and Syrian outvying the dignity
of Paulus and Lucius Mummius, who, by their victories, supplied the whole
city, and indeed every part of Italy, with a super- fluity of these
glittering trifles!" Only change the latter part of the sentence into,--
"_potuisse superari ab aliquo Syro aut Deliaco,_" and you will see, though
the meaning and the words are still the same, that, by making this slight
alteration in the order, and breaking the form of the period, the whole
force and spirit of it will be lost.

On the other hand, take one of the broken sentences of a writer unskilled
in composition, and make the smallest alteration in the arrangement of the
words,--and that which before was loose and disordered, will assume a
just and a regular form. Let us, for instance, take the following passage
from the speech of Gracchus to the Censors;--"_Abesse non potest, quin
ejusdem hominis fit, probos improbare, qui improbos probet_;" "There is no
possibility of doubting that the same person who is an enemy to virtue,
must be a friend to vice." How much better would the period have
terminated if he had said,--"_quin ejusdem hominis fit, qui improbos
probet, probos improbare_!"--"that the same person who is a friend to
vice, must be an enemy to virtue!" There is no one who would object to the
last:--nay, it is impossible that any one who was able to speak thus,
should have been willing to express himself otherwise. But those who have
pretended to speak in a different manner, had not skill enough to speak as
they ought; and for that reason, truly, we must applaud them for their
_Attic_ taste;--as if the great DEMOSTHENES could speak like an _Asiatic_
[Footnote: Quasi vero Trallianus fuerit Demosthenes.] _Trallianus_
signifies an inhabitant of _Tralles_, a city in the lesser Asia, between
_Caria_ and _Lydia_. The Asiatics, in the estimation of Cicero, were not
distinguished by the delicacy of their taste.,--that Demosthenes, whose
thunder would have lost half it's force, if it's flight had not been
accelerated by the rapidity of his numbers.

But if any are better pleased with a broken and dissipated style, let them
follow their humour, provided they condescend to counterbalance it by the
weight, and dignity of their sentiments: in the same manner, as if a
person should dash to pieces the celebrated shield of _Phidias_, though he
would destroy the symmetry of the whole, the fragments would still retain
their separate beauty;--or, as in the history of Thucydides, though we
discover no harmony in the structure of his periods, there are yet many
beauties which excite our admiration. But these triflers, when they
present us with one of their rugged and broken sentences, in which there
is neither a thought, nor word, but what is low and puerile, appear to me
(if I may venture on a comparison which is not indeed very elevated, but
is strictly applicable to the case in hand) to have untied a besom, that
we may contemplate the scattered twigs. If, however, they wish to convince
us that they really despise the species of composition which I have now
recommended, let them favour us with a few lines in the taste of
Isocrates, or such as we find in the orations of _Aeschines_ and
_Demosthenes_. I will then believe they decline the use of it, not from a
consciousness of their inability to put it in practice, but from a real
conviction of it's futility; or, at least, I will engage to find a person,
who, on the same condition, will undertake either to speak or write, in
any language they may please to fix upon, in the very manner they propose.
For it is much easier to disorder a good period, than to harmonize a bad

But, to speak my whole meaning at once, to be scrupulously attentive to
the measure and harmony of our periods, without a proper regard to our
sentiments, is absolute madness:--and, on the other hand, to speak
sensibly and judiciously, without attending to the arrangement of our
words, and the regularity of our periods, is (at the best) to speak very
awkwardly; but it is such a kind of awkwardness that those who are guilty
of it, may not only escape the title of blockheads, but pass for men of
good-sense and understanding;--a character which those speakers who are
contented with it, are heartily welcome to enjoy! But an Orator who is
expected not only to merit the approbation, but to excite the wonder, the
acclamations, and the plaudits of those who hear him, must excel in every
part of Eloquence, and be so thoroughly accomplished, that it would be a
disgrace to him that any thing should be either seen or heard with greater
pleasure than himself.

* * * * *

Thus, my Brutus, I have given you my opinion of a complete Orator; which
you are at liberty either to adopt or reject, as your better judgment
shall incline you. If you see reason to think differently, I shall have no
objection to it; nor so far indulge my vanity as to presume that my
sentiments, which I have so freely communicated in the present Essay, are
more just and accurate than yours. For it is very possible not only that
you and I may have different notions, but that what appears true even to
myself at one time, may appear otherwise at another. Nor only in the
present case, which be determined by the taste of the multitude, and the
capricious pleasure of the ear (which are, perhaps, the most uncertain
judges we can fix upon)--but in the most important branches of science,
have I yet been able to discover a surer rule to direct my judgment, than
to embrace that which has the greatest appearance of probability: for
_Truth_ is covered with too thick a veil to be distinguished to a
certainty. I request, therefore, if what I have advanced should not have
the happiness to merit your approbation, that you will be so much my
friend as to conclude, either that the talk I have attempted is
impracticable, or that my unwillingness to disoblige you has betrayed me
into the rash presumption of undertaking a subject to which my abilities
are unequal.

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