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and then followed by the reasons of the prohi- CHAP. bition. In matters not paradoxical or very doubtful, but only obscure, the argument will be more pithy and impressive, when the reason is subjoined; and here, the brevity of laconisms, and the flash of metaphors are in their proper place as Stesichorus said to the Locrians, "That they ought to abstain from insolence towards their neighbours, lest their grasshoppers should sing on the ground."32.
To be sententious, becomes the old only, and those much experienced in the matters of which they speak. In others, the stringing of sentences, as well as the frequent application of fables, is inept or ungraceful; the mark of native imbecillity or a neglected education: witness those ill-bred clowns, often to be met with, who are great hammerers of maxims, and perpetual retailers of proverbs.
To generalise a particular proposition, and thus convert it into a maxim or sentence, is most allowable in the transports of grief and anguish, and in the aggravation of injuries and crimes3:
so It will be rounder and more collected in itself-spоyyuλwτepα. 31 Awyμatwon, in the modern sense of enigma or riddle, is not here applicable; of this, more will be said in speaking of style.
32 Meaning thereby, that their trees,-palms, olives, &c. would be cut down by the enemy. The grasshoppers are represented by Homer and Anacreon, as sitting and singing on trees. Iliad iii. 151. Anacreon, Ode 43.
39 The author's examples do not appear; but innumerable, to the purpose, will occur. Thus Almeria generalises in the Mourning Bride,
For 'tis, alas! the poor prerogative
Of greatness, to be wretched, and unpitied.
BOOK and the general proposition may either immediately precede, or immediately follow the painful or the provoking circumstances to which it applies. Common sayings and proverbs are also of persuasive efficacy, when employed in their proper place. Their general reception is an indication that all are prepared to admit their force. Thus, when an army is ordered to fight, without the previous sacrifice, the command may be justified, by saying,
The best of omens is our country's cause.
And when led into the field, against a superior enemy, they may be told,
The chance of battle comes alike to all.
And, to justify the punishment of the innocent together with the guilty,
Weakness! to kill the sire, yet spare the son.
Some proverbs, though particular, have the force of general propositions or sentences. Thus, "An Athenian neighbourhood," indicates any neighbourhood that is dangerous or troublesome.3
And Helen, in Ovid, when arraigning the treachery of Paris:
Certus, in hospitibus, non est amor.
Vo' dir ch'ogni huomo sia perfido & crudele.
Man is made up of perfidy and cruelty.
3 After their victories over the Persians, the Athenians, it is well known, usurped on their allies, expelled some of them from their territories, and when they suffered the old inhabitants to remain, treated them with much arrogance and cruelty.
It may sometimes be expedient to invert an CHAP. adage, and to propose maxims contrary to those generally received. I mean such common max- Reversing ims as, "Know thyself;" "Avoid extremes." These may be controverted, either with a view to express and excite passion, or to give an amiable exhibition of character. To express passion, a man in anger may declare it to be a false assertion, that we ought to know ourselves; for had this presumptuous child of fortune (naming the object of his indignation) had any knowledge of himself, he never would have aspired to the command of armies. To exhibit character in an amiable view, certain maxims may be inverted, as that, "of living with friends as if they were to become enemies :" this selfish prudence may be reprobated by saying, "that we ought rather to treat our enemies as persons likely to become our friends." And here, much regard is to be paid to the form of expression, that it be easy, natural, and seem to flow spontaneously from the heart. When the expression, by itself alone, is insufficient to manifest the inward feeling and deliberate purpose, it will be necessary to subjoin the reason why the one maxim is to be preferred to the other; thus, "that we ought not to love, as if love, according to the vulgar saying, were liable to change, but as if true. affection were unalterable; for the contrary maxim is that of a traitor: and a real friend will behave, as if his friendship could not experience interruption, or ever come to an end." Again,
BOOK "nothing too much :" this may be controverted, by saying," that bad men and their actions cannot be hated too much."
Great efficacy of
Sentences have great weight in discourse, for two reasons. The first of these originates in sentences, the vanity of hearers, who delight in general propositions, embracing and re-echoing truths conformable to their own private experience and personal observation. The following remark will render this more plain, and at the same time show how such useful sentences are to be investigated. A sentence being the declaration of a general truth, men are highly flattered, and their minds, as it were, expanded, by hearing that pronounced generally, of which they know and have felt the reality, in some particular cases. Thus, a man who had been infested by bad neighbours, or afflicted by bad children, would hear with delight, "that nothing is more troublesome than neighbourhood;" and "nothing more foolish than the rearing of children." Whence we must endeavour to conjecture the various judgments that will be anticipated by persons variously circumstanced; and thus, to adapt our discourse to their humour. The second, and still more important use of sentences, is to exhibit by them our sentiments and character. Sentences moralise a discourse, for they stamp it with our habitual purposes and deliberate preferences; so that honourable and useful maxims indicate qualities of the same kind in him who pronounces them. Thus much concerning sen
tences, what they are, the various kinds of them, CHAP. when they are most seasonable, and the chief advantages to be derived from them in discourse.
LET us now speak of enthymemes or argu- CHAP. ments, adapted to the three kinds of eloquence respectively, and show in what manner they are Connec to be investigated and found out; and then tion of the subject. concerning those more general principles of persuasion, which apply to all the three kinds alike. These are of a different kind from the former, and are called topics.
It was formerly shown that enthymemes, or Popular eloquence. rhetorical arguments, are only a popular kind of syllogisms, never comprehending so long a chain of reasoning as that to which logical syllogisms frequently extend, nor expressing at full length the three propositions of which every regular syllogism is composed; for popular eloquence admits not of a long series of deductions, which could not be followed by an ignorant or careless audience; and it allows not of full and formal argumentation, which, from its plainness and simplicity, would appear to the multitude no better than babbling pedantry. On this account, Requisites men of narrow views and limited knowledge in it. are often better qualified than their superiors, to prevail in public assemblies. Their discourse, as the poets have said, insinuates itself more smoothly and more musically into the ear of ignorance and inattention; for their reasonings are not drawn from recondite or remote sources;
35 See Introduction, p. 54.