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certain. This is what we may observe, as to the Transitions, the Circumstances, and the Motives, in which the principal Artifice of a Narration consists. Let us proceed to consider the remaining Parts, such as the Figures, the Passions, the Descriptions, the Speeches, the Reflections, the Characters, the Digres fions, and all that enters into the Oeconomy of historical Discourse.
The only Service that Figures perform to History, is to warm and enliven it: An Orator, who designs to impose upon the Minds of his Hearers, scarce ever speaks without Figures, that he may the better play the Springs and Engines of his Art under this covert: But an Historian who proposes only to instruct, should be more sparing in their Use. Nor can the Simplicity of an historical Stile, reconcile it self to this Varnish, and this artificial Air, which would injure its ingenuons Plainness and Freedom. Lucian is never more happy in his Critick, than when he opposes himself to these vain Embellishments of Eloquence, so improper for the Strictness of History, which if attir'd with too many of them, looks (as he says) like Hercules in a Woman's Dress; the laf Expression of Indecency. Much less (as he adds) is it capable of those bright Strokes of the Poets, by which they smite the Heart, and raise the Soul, and disturb the Sense, and work all the Movements of the Passions. History, which is simple and natural, and which has no Design upon me, ought to leave my Heart free, that I may make an impartial.Judgment of its Reports. Elo,
quence, and Art of Fallacy and Deceit, may rob me of my Liberty, and persuade me by Force : but History, which stands confind within the Limits of bare Instruction, cannot with any Decorum, make use of Figures other. wise than to Temper its natural Coldness, and to make it more pleasant and conversable. 'Tis thus, that Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, refresh the Spirit of their Readers : and if Saluft, Livy, or Mariana, speak figuratively, 'tis never to put a Cheat upon the Publick. Tacitus is by no Means so scrupulous; he has the Air of one that would always dazzle and confound : The Hardiness of his Metaphors, and other Figures, over-strain his Expression. But Cafar seems to be in the other Extreme; while he follows a plain, naked scripfit Discourse without Figures, or any ornamen-Commental Advantage. A figurd Expression, if made tarios, qui
nudi funt, with true Art, may sometimes be more agree
absque om able, than any proper Terms; because it gives ni ornetu more lively and pleasing Ideas to the Mind, orationis. and more strengthens and ennobles a Stile Cic. Nay, there is a Boldness of Language, condu&ted by Wisdom and Judgment, which may be very allowable in Places that require more
than ordinary Heat and Motion. But Pater- Nibil fas culus's Exclamation on the Death of Cicero, is men egifti s over-violent ; his Zeal has the Start of his Marce
Antoni, Judgment; and, supplies him with Figures which have too much Vehemence for the Stile (cogit enim of History: His Heat and Transport of In- propofiti dignation seem to hurry him beyond his formam Character, tho’ introduc'd with an Apology.
rumpers Figures, if they would look well in an hilto
indignarical Work, must be chaste and modest; and 180) &c. must not suffer. the Flights of Poetry, or the Grandour of Oratory: They must not
(says Lucian) be sparkling, or nicely wrought and labour'd; except in the Description of a Battel, where an Historian may hoist the Flag of Eloquence, if he does not, at the same time, put up too much Sail.
The Passions are another great Beauty of Narration, if prudently mixt, and drawn with true Judgment. Indeed, they will not bear the same Degree of Heat, which they have in the Theatre : they are not play'd, būt barely reported; and therefore must appear with another Air. An Historian may give some Warmth to his Discourse ; but he must not himself be heated by it: He must therefore study human Nature to the Bottom, and unveil all those secret Motions of the Heart, which are excited by the several Passions, that he may represent them to the Life. This Part, rightly perform’d, will make a Narration more sweet and affecting. Thucydides has here the Advantage of Herodotus: The former, in the Judgment of Dionysius Halicarnaffans, being the more eloquent and pathetick, tho’the latter is very often more gay and sprightly. Hermogenas proposes, as an admirable Model of a sweet, affectionate, and moving Narration, the Death of Panthea, Queen of Sufiana, in the feventh Book of Xenophon's Cyropedia. 'Tis indeed one of the finest Places of that fine Author: every Thing is touch'd with all the Strokes of Tenderness and Pity. Photius highly
commends Josephus, for his Art of moving the Affe&us, e Pallions. Quintilian maintains that Livy has qui dulci excell’d all other Historians in this sweet and eres funt, nemo hiftoricorum Livio magis commendavit. Quint.
delicate Manner of Painting the softer Affe. dions: of which we have very lovely Instancęs, in the Rape of the Sabine Virgins, and those Female Stratagems by which they afterwards disarm'd their Fathers on the one side; and their Husbands on the other: The Death of Lucretia, and the Publick exposing of her Body, to incense the People against the Family of the Tarquins : Vetturia, in Tears at the Feet of her Son Coriolanus, beseeching him to raise the Siege of Rome : Virginia stab'a by the Hand of her own Father : The Consternation at Rome, after the Battle of Canna : with many other Pieces in this Work, express’d with the most compassionate Air, and in the most melting Language. And 'tis in this Author, that we are to study the Art of drawing the Para fions such as they ought to appear in History: for he never raises his Temper, but when the Occasion justifies his Warmth. Tacitus has taken no Care to manage his Fire; and therefore he is always in a Flame : His over-vehement Phrase, and his unnatural Portraits hinder him from making a true and just Impression. I forbear to speak of other Historians, of whom the greatest Part have neither understood the Nature of the Affections, nor the Manner of applying to them. This is a very peculiar Rhetorick, requiring a Depth of good Sense, and an exact Knowledge of Morality. But, in general, if we desire a Narration should please, we must keep it from cooling upon our Hands, by discreetly throwing in these Ardencies and Emotions, by which Nature is wont to express herself.
The Affectation that most Historians betray in the Use of Descriptions, has brought them under some dif-repute with the Judicious. Nothing indeed is so childish as a light Description in a serious History. Young Authors are wont to set their Hearts upon these Ornaments, without considering whether they are decent and proper : Whereas they ought never to be applied, but with the greatest Cau. bhi tion, and all Strictness of Sobriety. The Ruleiking is, to introduce them so far only
as they serve to illustrate Things, that are essential to the main Subject. Of this exa& Kind is the Descript tion of the Iland Caprea, in the fourth Books of Tacitus's Annals; upon which, Tiberius fhuť a
in his Retirement towards the Close of his Life ; it becomes necessary, and being concise, elegant, and beautiful, we may say, 'tis nicely as it ought to be. Saluft's Description of the Field of Battel, in the Defeat of Jugurtha by Metellus, gives us a much clearer Notion of the Engagement: We see the undaunted Courage of the Romans, as well as the Experience and Conduct of the Numidian King, by the Advantage which the latter gain'd in poflefling himself of the higher Ground: And the whole. Action is much better display'd by this exact Draught of the Scene, which the Historian fets before our Eyes. Such likewise is the Description, in the twenty second Book of Livy, of the Post where. Hannibal attack'd Minutius ; which seems' very artificially touch’d. The Situation of Pella, the Metropolis of Macedon, inserted in the 44th Book of the fame Hi