Obrazy na stronie


Author's PREFACE


Reflections on ELOQUENCE.

F the feveral Subjects to be treated of in
this Second Volume, there is none that 1
can better account for to the Publick, than

this of Eloquence; being furnish'd with Juch admirable Memoirs from the Rhetorical Inftrutions of Ariftotle, Cicero, and Quintilian; whofe Works in this kind are fo exact, and their Pourtrait of Eloquence fo juft, and fo accomplish'd, as to leave no Room for our Improvements, nor even for our Wilhes. But in as much as they proceed by different Ways to their common End, which is Perfwafion, it will not be improper to explain their particular Methods for the Information of those who shall apply themselves to the Art of Speaking, that every one may choose that Way which he finds best to comport with his own Genius.

Ariftotle, who by his profound Fudgment and great Capacity, dives farther into almost all Subjects, than all other Writers, has difcours'd of Eloquence with the trueft Accuracy and Strictness of Method. He divides his Work into three Books. In the First he comprizes whatever may feem effential to Rhetorick, its Nature and Definition, the Matter about which it is converfant, the End which it propofes, the Means which it imploys in order to the Attainment of this




End, which are, its Proofs or Arguments. From hence he paffes on to the Divifion of Rhetorick into three kinds, the Deliberative, the Demonstrative, and the Judiciary. Each of thefe is fubdivided into two Parts, the Deliberative into Exhortation and Dehortation, the Demonftrative into Praise and Difpraife, the Judiciary into Accufation and Defence. The End of the Deliberative kind is to fhew what is useful and expedient, and what is not; as alfo to debate whether a Profitable Good ought to be preferr'd to an Honest or Moral Good, or a fmall Good to a greater. The Demonftrative kind is exercifed in the praising of Vertue, and the dif praifing of Vice: And here the Author enters upon a large Enquiry concerning the proper Subjects of Praife and Difpraife. The Ufe of the Judiciary kind is to fupply us with offenfive or defenfive Weapons, for the attacking of others, or the fecuring of our felves.


In the Second Book he delivers the true Knowledge of Humane Nature, by his curious Defcriptions of the Manners and Paffions, which are the shortest and Sureft Ways that lead to the Heart of Man. In this confifts all the Art and Method of his Second Book, and indeed all the Force, and the very Life of Eloquence.

In the Third Book, he explains the Nature of Difcourfe, as compos'd of Diction and Elocution. Here he diftinguifhes the feveral Species of Orations, and their feveral Parts, in regard to the choice of Reafonings, the ufe of Figures, and the well-ranging of Sentences. And tho' his Defign be admirable as propos'd in general, it is still more wonderful, as executed in particular. The whole is truly a Masterpiece, in which the feveral Lines and Features meet with exact proportion in the finifl'd Draught. For this great Man, who had as perfect a Comprehenfion of Eloquence, as of Nature, has


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

fhewn the utmost reach of Genius in his Explica


Cicero in his Oratorical Treatifes is not fo Methodical as Ariftotle, but more elegant and polite, which is his infeparable Character. We must own him to be always folid, but then he is not always the moft regular, as aiming rather to please than to inftruct. Not but that upon ftrict Attention and a clofer View, we may discover a fecret Order and Method which he has very faithfully obferv'd. But he is not willing that all the World Should be acquainted with his Method. The Rules ke follows, are fuch as the Learned only can diftinguish, and fuch as he makes ufe of only to guard his Difcourfe from that Drynefs, and that Incoherency to which an Author must expofe himself, who undertakes to reduce Things to Art, and Principles, which have not hitherto been brought under the fame Confinement. All which he has perform'd with that Order and Grace, that we may affirm there's no Author from whom a Man may gather fo much Fruit and Benefit, fo much Politeness and Elegance, fo much Solidity and good Senfe, as from Cicero. In which regard we cannot but applaud the happy Fate of Eloquence, that he who carry'd it to its highest Perfection in Practice, should at the fame time adorn it with his Precepts.

He had in his younger Years; and for his own pri vate Ufe, drawn fome Sketches of this Art, which in his Maturity of Age and Judgment his Brother prevail'd with him to touch over and finish. The Sum of his three Books de Oratore, is as follows. At the Entrance of the first Book, he demonftrates, that an Orator who would excel in his Profeffion, must be an univerfal Scholar; contrary to his Brother's Opinion, who thought a lefs extended Knowledge to be fufficient, and to that of Scævola, who maintain'd, that nothing more was necessary, than to be skill'd in the Practice and Forms of the Bar. The B 2


Difcourfe which Craffus makes on this Argument (for the whole is written by way of Dialogue, and enrich'd with all the Graces of fine Converfation) is rather a Panegyrick upon Eloquence, to give us a noble Idea of it, than an Inftruction to assist us in attaining to it.

In a word, his whole Bufinefs is to draw the PiEture of an accomplish'd Orator. Having fettled the End of Eloquence, he proceeds to diftinguish its three Kinds, according to Ariftotle; and obferves, that the Judiciary Kind is wholly directed to Right and Equity, the Deliberative Kind to Profit, and the Demonftrative to Glory and Dignity. Hence he paffes to the Divifion of Parts, and the univerfal Oeconomy of a Difcourfe; and defcends to the feveral Rules that concern the Purity, the Perfpicuity, the Ornaments and the Decorum of Speech. He concludes with the Laws of Pronunciation; and observes, that Things which depend most upon Nature may yet be improv'd and rectify'd by the Succours of Art. And upon this occafion be cenfures those who pretend that the Gift of Speaking is attain'd by meer Ufe and Exercife, not confidering that Men learn to speak ill, only by fpeaking ill, that is, by speaking without due Preparation of Thought. For, fays he, as much as a Things that are digefted by Study, excel those that are unpremeditated; fo much Things committed to Writing excel thofe that are barely studied, or conceiv'd. He then enlarges upon the several Sciences that are neceffary to Supply an Orator with a good Stock of Senfe, Eloquence being but a Trifle if not Supported by fuch a Fund. These are the Springs from whence an Orator is to draw all his Streams; and this is the way that Craffus, in this First Book chalks out to Cotta and Sulpitius to lead them to a compleat Mastery in the Art of Speaking.

And because the fame Gentlemen are urgent with him to explain his own Method, and to lay open the


« PoprzedniaDalej »