« ZurückWeiter »
I perceive clearly that without
Afsistance I shou'd have continu'd in several Errors. I intreat you, Sir, to go on, and set me intirely right in my Notions of Eloquence.
Ā. Your Mistakes, (if you will allow me to call them so,) prevail among most People of Worth and Learning who have not examin'd this Matter to the Bottom.
B. Let us not lose Time in Preainble: we shall have a thousand Things to say. Proceed therefore, Sir, to rectify iny Mistakes; and begin at the Point where we left off Yesterday
A. Of what Point were we talking, when we parted? I have really forgot.
C. You were speaking of that kind of Eloquence which consists intirely in moving the Passions.
B. Yes : but I cou'd not well comprehend that the whole Design of Rhetorick is to move the Passions. Is that
O pinion, Sir?
A. By no ineans.
A. What wou'd you say of a Man who shou'd perswade without any Proof; and affect his Hearers, without inlightening them? You cou'd not reckon him a true Orator. He might seduce People by this Art of perswading them to what he wou'd,
without shewing them that what he recommends is right. Such a Person must prove very dangerous in the Commonwealth : as we have seen before froin the Reasoning of SOCRATES.
B. It is very true.
A. But on the other hand, what wou'd you think of a Man, who in his publick Discourses shou'd demonstrate the Truth, in a plain, dry, exact, methodical manner; or make use of the Geometrical way of Reasoning; without adding any thing to adorn or enliven his Discourse ? wou'd you reckon him an Orator?
B. No: I shou'd think hiin a Philofopher only.
A. To make a compleat Orator then, we must find a Philofopher who knows both how to demonstrate any Truth; and at the same time, to give his accurate Reasoning all the natural Beauty and Vehemence of an agreeable, moving Discourse, to render it intirely eloquent. And herein lies the Difference betwixt the clear convincing Method of Philosophy; and the affecting, perswalive Art of Eloquence.
C. What do you say is the Difference?
A. I say a Philosopher's Aim is merely to demonstrate the Truth, and gain your Affent; while the Orator not only con
vinces your Judgment, but commands your Passions.
C. I don't take your Meaning exactly yet.
When a Hearer is fully convinc'd, what is there more to be done?
A. There is still wanting what an Orator wou'd do more than a Metaphysician, in proving the Existence of God. The Metaphysician wou'd give you a plain Demonstration of it; and stop at the speculative View of that important Truth. But the Orator wou'd further add whatever is proper to excite the most affecting Sentiments in
your Mind; and make you love that glorious Being whose Existence he had proved. And this is what we call Perswalion.
C. Now I understand you perfectly well.
A. You see then what Reason CICERO had to say, that we must never separate Philofophy from Eloquence. For, the Art of perswading without Wisdom, and previous Instruction, must be pernicious : And Wisdom alone, without the Art of Perswalion, can never have a sufficient Influence on the Minds of Men; nor allure thein to the love and practice of Virtue. I thought it proper to observe this by the by, to lhew you how much those of the last Age were inistaken in their Notions of this Matter. For, on the one
hand there were some Men of polite Learning, who valued nothing but the Purity of Languages, and Books elegantly written ; but having no folid Principles of Knowledge, with their Politeness and Erudition, they were generally Libertines. On the other hand, there were a Set of dry, forınal Scholars, who deliver'd their Instructions in such a perplext, dogmatical, unaffecting manner as disgusted every body. Excuse this Digreflion. I return now to the Point; and must remind you that Perfwasion has this Advantage beyond mere Conviction, or Denonstration; that it not only sets Truth in the fullest Light, but represents it as amiable; and engages Men to love and pursue it. * The whole Art of Eloquence therefore consists in inforcing the clearest Proofs of any Truth, with such powerful Motives as inay affect the Hearers, and employ their Pasfions to just and worthy Ends; to raise their Indignation, at Ingratitude ; their Horror, against Cruelty : their CompasF 3
- Omnes animorum motus, quos hominum generi rerum natura tribuit, penitus pernoscendi; quòd omnis vis ratioque dicendi in eorum qui audiunt, mentibus aut sedandis, aut excitandis, exprimenda eft. Cic. de Orat. lib. j. §. 5. Maximaque pars orationis admovenda est ad animorum motus nonnunquam aut cohortatione, aut commemoratione aliqua, aut in fpem, aut in metum, aut ad cupiditatem, aut ad gloriam concitandos : fæpe etiam a temeritate, iracundia, spe, injuria, crudelitate revocandos. Ibid. lib. ij. §. 82.
fion, for the Miserable ; their Love, of Virtue: and to direct every other Paffion to its proper Objects. This is what PLATO calls affecting the Minds of an Audience mouing their Bowels. Do you understand me, Sir ?
B. Very plainly : and I see too that Eloquence is not a trifling Invention to ainuse and dazle People with pompous Language ; but that 'tis a very serious Art; and serviceable to Morality.
A. It is both a serious and a difficult Art. For which Reason TULLY faid he had heard several Persons declaim in an elegant engaging manner; but that there were but very few compleat Orators, who knew how to seize, and captivate the Heart.
C. I am not surpriz'd at that : For I fee but very few who aim at it : Nay I freely own that CICERO himself who lays down this Rule, seems oftentimes to forget it. What do you think of those Rhetorical Flowers with which he embellisheth his Harangues? They might amuse the Fancy, but cou'd not touch the Heart.
A. We must distinguish, Sir, betwixt TULLY's Orations. Those he compos'd in his Youth (when he chiefly aim'd at establishing his Character,) have oft-times the gay Defect
you speak of. He was then full of Ambition; and far more