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such societies, in the first place, to attend to the choice of their subjects; that they be useful and manly, either formed on the course of their studies, or on something that has relation to morals and taste, to action and life. In the second place, I would advise them to be temperate in the practice of speaking; not to speak too often, nor on subjects where they are ignorant or unripe; but only, when they have proper materials for a discourse, and have digested and thought of the subject beforehand. In the third place, when they do speak, they should study always to keep good sense and persuasion in view, rather than an ostentation of eloquence; and for this end I would, in the fourth place, repeat the advice which I gave in a former Lecture, that they should always choose that side of the question to which, in their own judgment, they are most inclined, as the right and true side; and defend it by such arguments as seem to them most solid. By these means, they will take the best method of forming themselves gradually to a manly, correct, and persuasive manner of speaking.

It now only remains to inquire, of what use may the study of critical and rhetorical writers be for improving one in the practice of eloquence? These are certainly not to be neglected; and yet I dare not say that much is to be expected from them. For professed writers on public speaking, we must look chiefly among the ancients. In modern times, for reasons which were before given, popular eloquence, as an art, has never been very much the object of study; it has not the same powerful effects now that it had in more democratical states; and therefore has not been cultivated with the same care. Among the moderns, though there has been a great deal of good criticism on the different kinds of writing, yet much has not been attempted on the subject of eloquence, or public discourse; and what has been given us of that kind, has been drawn mostly from the ancients. Such a writer as Joannes Gerardus Vossius, who has gathered into one heap of ponderous lumber, all the trifling, as well as the useful things, that are to be found in the Greek and Roman writers, is enough to disgust one with the study of eloquence. Among the French there has been more attempted, on this subject, than among the English. The Bishop of Cambray's writings on eloquence,

I before mentioned with honour. Rollin, Batteux, Crevier, Gibert, and several other French critics, have also written on oratory; but though some of them may be useful, none of them are so considerable as to deserve particular recommendation,

It is to the original ancient writers that we must chiefly have recourse; and it is a reproach to any one, whose profession calls him to speak in public, to be unacquainted with them. In all the ancient rhetorical writers, there is, indeed, this defect, that they are too systematical, as I formerly showed ; they aim at doing too much; at reducing rhetoric to a complete and perfect art, which may even supply invention with materials on every subject; insomuch, that one would imagine they expected to form an orator by rule, in as mechanical a manner as one would form a carpenter. Whereas, all that can, in truth, be done, is to give openings for assisting and enlightening taste, and for pointing out to genius the course it ought to hold.

Aristotle laid the foundation for all that was afterwards written on the subject. That amazing and comprehensive genius, which does honour to human nature, and which gave light unto so many different sciences, has investigated the principles of rhetoric with great penetration. Aristotle appears to have been the first who took rhetoric out of the hands of the sophists, and introduced reasoning and good sense into the art. Some of the profoundest things which have been written on the passions and manners of men, are to be found in his Treatise on Rhetoric; though in this, as in all his writings, his great brevity often renders him obscure. Succeeding Greek rhetoricians, most of whom are now lost, improved on the foundation which Aristotle had laid. Two of them still remain,. Demetrius Phalereus, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus; both write on the construction of sentences, and deserve to be perused; especially Dionysius, who is a very accurate and judicious


I need scarcely recommend the rhetorical writings of Cicero. Whatever, on the subject of eloquence, comes from so great. an orator, must be worthy of attention. His most considerable work on this subject is that De Oratore, in three books. None of Cicero's writings are more highly finished than this treatise.

The dialogue is polite; the characters are well supported, and the conduct of the whole is beautiful and agreeable. It is, indeed, full of digressions, and his rules and observations may be thought sometimes too vague and general. Useful things, however, may be learned from it; and it is no small benefit to be made acquainted with Cicero's own idea of eloquence. The "Orator ad M. Brutum," is also a considerable treatise; and, in general, throughout all Cicero's rhetorical works there run those high and sublime ideas of eloquence, which are fitted both for forming a just taste, and for creating that enthusiasm for the art, which is of the greatest consequence for excelling in it.

But of all the ancient writers on the subject of oratory, the most instructive, and most useful, is Quintilian. I know few books which abound more with good sense, and discovers a greater degree of just and accurate taste, than Quintilian's Institutions. Almost all the principles of good criticism are to be found in them. He has digested into excellent order all the ancient ideas concerning rhetoric, and is, at the same time, himself an eloquent writer. Though some parts of his work contain too much of the technical and artificial system then in vogue, and for that reason may be thought dry and tedious, yet I would not advise the omitting to read any part of his institutions. To pleaders at the bar, even these technical parts may prove of much use. Seldom has any person, of more sound and distinct judgment than Quintilian, applied himself to the study of the art of oratory,





I HAVE now finished that part of the course which respected oratory, or public speaking, and which, as far as the subject allowed, I have endeavoured to form into some sort of system. It remains, that I enter on the consideration of the most distinguished kinds of composition both in prose and verse, and point out the principles of criticism relating to them. This part of the work might easily be drawn out to a great length; but I am sensible, that critical discussions, when they are pursued too far, become both trifling and tedious. I shall study, therefore, to avoid unnecessary prolixity; and hope at the same time, to omit nothing that is very material under the several heads.

I shall follow the same method here which I have all along pursued, and without which, these Lectures could not be entitled to any attention; that is, I shall freely deliver my own opinion on every subject; regarding authority no farther, that as it appears to me founded on good sense and reason. In former Lectures, as I have often quoted several of the ancient classics for their beauties, so I have also, sometimes, pointed out their defects. Hereafter I shall have occasion to do the same, when treating of their writings under more general heads. It may be fit, therefore, that, before proceeding farther, I make some observations on the comparative merit of the ancients and the moderns in order that we may be able to ascertain rationally, upon what foundation that deference rests, which has so generally been paid to the ancients. These observations are the more necessary, as this subject has given rise to no small con


troversy in the republic of letters; and they may, with propriety, be made now, as they will serve to throw light on some things I have afterwards to deliver, concerning different kinds of composition.

It is a remarkable phenomenon, and one which has often employed the speculations of curious men, that writers and artists, most distinguished for their parts and genius, have generally appeared in considerable numbers at a time. Some ages have been remarkably barren in them; while, at other periods, nature seem to have exerted herself with a more than ordinary effort, and to have poured them forth with a profuse fertility. Various reasons have been assigned for this. Some of the moral causes lie obvious; such as favourable circumstances of government and of manners; encouragement from great men; emulation excited among the men of genius. But as these have been thought inadequate to the whole effect, physical causes have been also assigned ; and the Abbé du Bos, in his reflections on poetry and painting, has collected a great many observations on the influence which the air, the climate, and other such natural causes, may be supposed to have upon genius. But whatever the causes be, the fact is certain, that there have been certain periods or ages of the world much more distinguished than others, for the extraordinary productions of genius.

Learned men have marked out four of these happy ages. The first is the Grecian age, which commenced near the time of the Peloponnesian war, and extended till the time of Alexander the Great; within which period, we have Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Æschines, Lysias, Isocrates, Pindar, Æschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Menander, Anacreon, Theocritus, Lysippus, Apelles, Phidias, Praxiteles. The second, is the Roman age, included nearly within the days of Julius Cæsar and Augustus; afforded us Catullus, Lucretius, Terence, Virgil, Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, Phædrus, Cæsar, Cicero, Livy, Sallust, Varro, and Vitruvius. The third age is, that of the restoration of learning, under the Popes Julius II. and Leo X; when flourished Ariosto, Tasso, Sannazarius, Vida, Machiavel, Guicciardini, Davila, Erasmus, Paul Jovius, Michael Angelo, Raphal, Titian. The fourth, comprehends

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