« PreviousContinue »
Eloquence in the largest acceptation defined.....its more general forms exhibited.....with their different objects,
IN speaking there is always some end proposed, or some effect which the speaker intends to produce in the hearer. The word eloquence in its greatest latitude denotes, “That art or talent by which the dis“course is adapted to its end *.”
* “Dicere secundum virtutem orationis. Scientia bene dicendi.” QUINTILIAN. The word eloquence, in common conversation, is seldom used in such a comprehensive sense. I have, however, made choice of this definition on a double account : 1st, It exactly corresponds to Tully's idea of a perfect orator; “Optimus est orator - “qui
Eloquence defined....its more general forms exhibited....
ALL the ends of speaking are reducible to four; every speech being intended to enlighten the understanding, to please the imagination, to move the passions, or to influence the will.
ANY one discourse admits only of one of these ends as the principal. Nevertheless, in discoursing on a subject, many things may be introduced, which are more immediately and apparently directed to some of the other ends of speaking, and not to that which is the chief intent of the whole. But then these other and immediate ends are in effect but means, and must be rendered conducive to that which is the primary intention. Accordingly, the propriety or the impropriety of the introduction of such secondary ends, will always be inferred from their subserviency or want of subserviency to that end, which is, in respect of them, the ultimate. For example, a discourse addressed to the understanding, and calculated to illustrate or evince some point purely speculative, may borrow aid from the imagination, and admit metaphor and comparison, but not the bolder and more striking figures, as that called vision or fiction *, prosopopoeia, and the like ;
“qui dicendo animos audientium et docet, et delectat, et permovet.” 2dly, It is best adapted to the subject of these papers. See the note on page 33. * By vision or fiction is understood, that rhetorical figure of which Quintilian says, “Quas oxylaria; Graeci vocant, nos sane wi<< sioner appellamus, per quas imagines rerum absentium ita reprae“sentantur animo, ut eas corncre oculis ac praesentes habere videz
which are not so much intended to elucidate a subject, as to excite admiration. Still less will it admit an address to the passions, which, as it never fails to disturb the operation of the intellectual faculty, must be regarded by every intelligent hearer as foreign, at least, if not insidious. It is obvious, that either of these, far from being subservient to the main design, would distract the attention from it. -
THERE is indeed one kind of address to the understanding, and only one, which, it may not be improper to observe, disdains all assistance whatever from the fancy. The address I mean, is mathematical demonstration. As this doth not, like moral reasoning, admit degrees of evidence, its perfection in point of eloquence, if so uncommon an application of the term may be allowed, consists in perspicuity. Perspicuity here results entirely from propriety and simplicity of diction, and from accuracy of method, where the mind is regularly, step by step, conducted forwards in the same tract, the attention no way diverted, nothing left to be supplied, no one unnecessary word or idea introduced *. On the contrary, an harangue framed for af. fecting the hearts or influencing the resolves of an as
* Of this kind Euclid hath given us the most perfect models, which have not, I think, been sufficiently imitated by later mathematicians. In him you find the exactest arrangement inviolably observed, the properest and simplest, and by consequence, the plainest expressions constantly used, nothing deficient, nothing superfluous; in brief, nothing which in more, in fewer, or other words, or words otherwise disposed, could have been better expressed.
Eloquence defined...its more general forms exhibited....
sembly, needs greatly the assistance both of intellect and of imagination.
IN general it may be asserted, that each preceding species, in the order above exhibited, is preparatory to the subsequent; that each subsequent species is founded on the preceding; and that thus they ascend in a regular progression. Knowledge, the object of the intellect, furnishes materials for the fancy; the fancy culls, compounds, and, by her mimic art, disposes these materials so as to affect the passions; the passions are the natural spurs to volition or action, and so need only to be right directed. This connection and dependency will better appear from the following observatlonS.
WHEN a speaker addresseth himself to the understanding, he proposes the instruction of his hearers, and that, either by explaining some doctrine unknown, or not distinctly comprehended by them, or by proving some position disbelieved or doubted by them.—In other words, he proposes either to dispel ignorance or to vanquish error. In the one, his aim is their information ; in the other, their conviction. Accordingly the predominant quality of the former is perspicuity; of the latter, argument. By that we are made to know, by this to believe.
THE imagination is addressed by exhibiting to it a lively and beautiful representation of a suitable object. As in this exhibition, the task of the Orator may, in
...with their different objects...ends....and characters.
some sort, be said, like that of the painter, to consist in imitation, the merit of the work results entirely from these two sources; dignity, as well in the subject or thing imitated, as in the manner of imitation ; and resemblance, in the portrait or performance. Now the principal scope for this class being in narration and description, poetry, which is one mode of oratory, especially epic poetry, must be ranked under it. The ef. fect of the dramatic, at least of tragedy, being upon the passions, the drama falls under another species, to be explained afterwards. But that kind of address of which I am now treating, attains the summit of perfection in the sublime, or those great and noble images, which, when in suitable colouring presented to the mind, do, as it were, distend the imagination with some vast conception, and quite ravish the soul.
THE sublime, it may be urged, as it raiseth admiration, should be considered as one species of address to the passions. But this objection, when examined, will appear superficial. There are few words in any language (particularly such as relate to the operations and feelings of the mind) which are strictly univocal. Thus admiration, when persons are the object, is commonly used for a high degree of esteem; but when otherwise applied, it denotes solely an internal taste. It is that pleasurable sensation which instantly ariseth on the perception of magnitude, or of whatever is great and stupendous in its kind. For there is a greatness in the degrees of quality in spiritual subjects, analogous to that which subsists in the degrees of quantity in mate