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STHE NE S too? All the Panegyrifts were more follicitous for their own Honour, than for the Fame of their Heroes
j and they extolld a Prince's Glory to the Skies, chiefly because they hop'd to be admir'd for their ingenious Manner of praising him. This Ambition seems to have been always reckon'd coinmendable both among the Greeks and the Romans: and such Emulation brought Eloquence to its Perfectionit inspir’d Men with noble Thoughts and generous Sentiments, by which the ancient Republicks were made to flourish. . The advantagious Light in which Eloquence appear’d in great Assemblies, and the Ascendant it gave
the Orator over the People, made it to be admir'd, and helpt to spread polite Learning. I cannot see indeed wliy such an Emulation shou'd be blam'd even among
Christian Orators; provided they did not shew an indecent Affectation in their Discourses, nor in the least enervate the Precepts of the Gospel. We ought not to censure what animates young People, and forin's our greatest Preachers.
A. You have here put several things together, which, if you please, Sir, we'll consider separately; and observe some Method in enquiring what we ought to conclude from thein. But let us above all things avoid a wrangling Humour;
and examine the Subject with Calmness and Temper, like Persons who are afraid of nothing so inuch as of Error : and let us place the true Point of Honour in a candid Acknowledgment of our Mistakes, whenever we perceive them.
B. That is the exact State of my Mind; or at least I judge it to be so ; and I intreat you to tell me when you find me transgressing this equitable Rule.
A. We will not as yet talk of what relates to Preachers; for that point may be more seasonably consider'd afterwards, Let us begin with those Orators whofe Examples you vouch't. By inentiçning DEMOSTHENES and ISOCRATES together, you disparage the former; for the latter was a lifeless Declaimer, that busied himself in polishing his Thoughts, and giv, ing an harmonious Cadence to his periods. He had a very * low and vulgar Notion of Eloquence; and plac'd almost the whole of it, in a nice Disposal of his
In the Introduction of this very Panegyrick that our Author mentions, ISOCRATE S says, Such is the Nature of Eloquence, that it makes great things appear little ; and small things to seem great it can represent old things as new; and new things as if they were old ; and that therefore he would not decline a Subject that others had handled before him, but would endeavour to declaim better than they.'--Upon which LONGINUS (S. xxxviij.) makes this judicious Remark; that by giving such a Character of Eloquence, in the Beginning of his Panegyrick, the Orator in effect caution'd his Hearers not to believe his Discourse.
Words. A Man who employ'd ten or (as others fay) fifteen Years, in simoothing the Periods of a Panegyrick, which was a Discourse concerning the Necessities of Greece, cou'd but give but a very small and flow Relief to the Republick, against the Enterprizes of the Persian King. DeMOSTHENES spoke against PHILIP in a quite different manner. You may read the Comparison that DIONYSIUS HALICARNASSIUS has made of these two Orators, and see there the chief Faults he observ'd in ISOCRATES; whose Discourses are vainly gay and florid; and his Periods adjusted with incredible Pains, merely to please the Ear: while on the contrary, DEMOSTHENES moves, warms, and captivates the Heart. He was too sensibly touch'd with the Interest of his Country, to mind the little glittering Fancies that amus'd ISOCRATES. Every Oration of DEMOSTHENES is a close Chain of Reasoning, that represents
* In Oratoribus verò, Græcis quidem, admirabile est quantum inter omnes unus excellat. Attamen cum esset DEMOSTHENES, multi Oratores magni, & clari fuerunt, & antea fuerant, nec poftea defecerunt. Cic. Orat,
Quid denique DEMOSTHENES? non cunctos illos tenues & circumfpectos (Oratores) vi, sublimitate, impetu, cultu, compofitione fuperavit? non infurgit locis ? non figuris gaudet? non translationibus nitet : non Oratione fi&ta dat carentibus vocem ? --- QUINTIL. lib. xij.
the generous Notions of a Soul who dil--dains any Thought that is not great. His Discourses gradually encrease in Force by greater Light and new Reasons; which are always illustrated by bold Figures and lively Images. One cannot but see that he has the Good of the Republick entirely at heart; and that Nature itself speaks in all his Transports: for his artful Address is so masterly, that it never appears. Nothing ever equald the Force and Vehemence of his Discourses. Have you never read the Remarks that LONGINUS made on them, in his Treatise of the SUBLIME?
B. No: Is not that the Treatise that Mr:BOILE AU translated ? Do you think it fine ?
A. I am not afraid to tell you that I think it surpasses ARISTOTLE's Rhea torick; which, though it be a very solid Tract, is yet clogg'd with many dry Precepts, that are rather curious, than fit for Practice; so that it is more proper to point out the Rules of Art to such as are already eloquent, than to give us a just Taste of Rhetorick, and to form true Orators. But LONGINUS, in his Discourse of the Sublime, intersperses among his Precepts, many fine Examples from the greatest Authors, to illustrate
thein. * He treats of the Sublime in a lofty manner, as his Translator has judiciously observ'd : He warins cur Fancy, and exalts our Mind; he forms our Taste; and teaches us to distinguish what is either fine, or faulty, in the most famous ancient Writers.
B. Is LONGINUS such a wonderful Author ? Did he not live in the days of ZENOBIA, and the Einperor A ÚR ELIAN?
A. Yes; you cannot but know their History.
B. Did not those Days fall vastly short of the Politeness of former Ages? And can you imagine that an Author who flourish'd in the Declension of Learning and Eloquence had a better Taste than IsoCRATES? I cannot believe it.'
A. I was surpriz'd inyfelf, to find it fo: but you need only read him, to be convinc'd of it. Tho he liv'd in a very corrupted Age, he form’d his Judgment upon the ancient Models; and has avoided almost all the reigning Faults of his own Tiine; I say almost all, for, I must
* Thee, bold LONGINUS ! all the Nine infpite,
And bless their Critick with a Poet's Fire :
Mr. Pope's Ellay on Criticism, p.45.