Billeder på siden

quam corporis complectantur. Non quia intercedendum putem imaginibus quæ marmore aut ære finguntur. Sed ut vultus hominum, ita simulacra vultus imbecilla ac mortalia sunt, forma mentis æterna, quam tenere et exprimere, non per alienam materiam et artem, sed tuis ipse moribus possis.

They who pursue the plain and straight course from which he never swerved, will do just homage to his moral and intellectual excellencies, and will obtain to themselves immortal honour for their sagacity, their fortitude, and their integrity. But they who strike aside into the dark and crooked byepaths which he always shunned, will stand convicted of insulting his memory, of sacrificing patriotism to selfishness, and of heaping disgrace and destruction upon that empire which his principles had adorned, and which his counsels might have preserved.

To you, who feel as I do, the unusual importance of the subjects which I have had occasion to discuss in this letter, no apology can be necessary for the unusual length of it. It is written with that sincerity which becomes a real friend of Mr. Fox, and with which I shall ever be ready to prove myself, dear Sir,

Your well wisher, &c.

December 6, 1807.

* Tacit. in Vit. Agric.


Note 1, p. 15.

Marcus Antonius, in the only book he ever wrote, professes "disertos se vidisse multos, eloquentem omnino Neminem," and Cicero, who records this observation,* seems in several passages to assent to it. But having described the “varia officia Oratoris,” he says, “ inventus profecto est ille eloquens, quem nunquam vidit Antonius. Quis est igitur is ? Qui et humilia subtiliter, et magna graviter, et mediocria temperate potest dicere." And again, “ qui poterit parva summisse, modica temperate, magna graviter dicere." +

Surely the foregoing words remind us of the variety which appeared in Mr. Fox's speeches, and the adaptation of his matter to his subject. Yet, as Cicero acknowledges, and very justly, that no speaker really possessed all those qualities in the high degree of excellence which he and Anthony could conceive, and then professes to return, in Platonic language, ad Rei Formam et Speciem, I am content to say, that Mr. Fox only approached the character of a perfect orator. But what did he actually reach? I answer, with very little fear of contradiction from impartial and intelligent critics, that he possessed “Genus dicendi subtile in probando, modicum in delectando, vehemens in flectendo, in quo uno Vis omnis Oratoris est." I

Or, I would say of Mr. Fox, as Cicero, referring to his own work called Brutus, did of Demosthenes, " Recordor me longe omnibus unum anteferre Demosthenem, qui vim accommodarit ad eam quam sentiam eloquentiam; non ad eam quam in aliquo ipse cognoverim. Hoc nec gravior exstitit quisquam, nec callidior, nec temperatior.”§ I see great excellencies in some of Mr. Fox's contemporaries; but the fault which I chiefly impute to them is το πανταχού κώδωνας εξήφθαι.*

* Cicero, Orator. par. 18. Gronov.

Ibid. par. 69.

+ Ibid. par. 70, 71. edit. ♡ Ibid. par. 23.

[ocr errors]

Note 2, p. 17.

«Ωστε και μεγαλόφρων και μεγαλοπράγμων ουκ έκ κενού αυχήματος, αλλ' έξ έχεγγύου διανοίας δοκείν είναι."+

Note 3, p. 17.

“Genus eloquendi secutus est elegans et temperatum : vitatis sententiarum ineptiis, atque inconcinnitate, et reconditorum verborum, ut ipse dicit, foetoribus. Præcipuamque curam duxit, sensum animi quam apertissime exprimere." I

Note 4, p. 17.

To Mr. Fox, as a writer of History, we may by anticipation apply what Cicero says of a Dialogue which he had composed, and assigned to fictitious speakers, “ de optimo Statu Civitatis, et de optimo Cive." "Hi Libri cum in Tusculano mihi legerentur, audiente Sallustio, admonitus sum ab illo, multo majore Auctoritate illis de Rebus dici posse, si ipse loquerer de Republica, præsertim cum essem, non Heraclides Ponticus, sed Consularis ; et is qui in maximis versatus in Republicæ Rebus essem.") In one of my letters to Mr. Fox, when I had mentioned to him the impatience of the public to see his History, and had expressed my wish that he would take his own time in preparing it, I desired him to read what Cicero said of an historical work, which his friends importuned him to undertake. You will not be sorry to see it.

“Postulatur a te jamdiu," says Atticus, “vel flagitatur potius Historia-atque ut audias quid ego sentiam, non solum videris eorum Studiis, qui Litteris delectantur, sed etiam Patriæ debere hoc Munus." Among other reasons which Cicero assigns for declining the task, he gives one which I particularly urged to Mr. Fox for not being in haste with his work :

* Longin. sect. 23. + Dio Cassius, Fragment. 56.

Sueton. in Vit. August. parag. 85. § Epist. ad Quint. frat. lib. iii. Epist. 5.

“ Historia nec institui potest, nisi præparato otio, nec exiguo tempore absolvi : et ego animi pendere' soleo, cum semel quid orsus, traducor alio, neque tam facile interrupta contexo, quam absolvo instituta."*

If I am not greatly mistaken, we shall find in Mr. Fox's History that exemption from all foreign idiom, and all affected phraseology, which Photius ascribes to Herodian : « έστι δε την φράσιν σαφής και λαμπρός και ήδύς, και λέξει χρώμενος σώφρονι, μήτε υπεραττικιούση, και την έμφυτον εξυβριξούση χάριν του συνήθους, μήτε προς το ταπεινόν εκλελυμένη, και την έντεχνον υπερορώση γνώσιν."

Whether my conjectures about the style of Mr. Fox's History be right or wrong, I am sure that the matter contained in it will furnish us with additional opportunities for deciding on the justness of Polybius's remark, when he tells us “τα της ιστορίας έξει τότε καλώς, όταν οι πραγματικοί των ανδρών γράφειν επιχειρήσωσι τας ιστορίας, I not negligently, but with the whole force of their minds, with the aid of long experience, and under the conviction that they must be unequal to the difficulties of their task, unless they brought with them την εξ αυτών των πραγμάτων έξιν."! As to the spirit of our friend's History, we most assuredly shall not find in it the tò uvnoukakeiv imputed to Thucidides by Dionys. Halicarnass. in Epist. ad Pomp. nor the faults which Polybius so earnestly and so frequently imputes to Timeus, who « παρεσκοτισμένος υπό της ιδίας πικρίας, τα μεν ελαττώματα δυσμενικώς και μετ' αυξήσεως ημίν εξήγγελκε, τα δε κατορθώματα συλλήβδην παραλέλοιπεν.” :

NoTE 5, p. 18.

I have lately heard that Mr. Fox left one volume of his History fit for publication, and that it has been sent to the press. Though his principles and general habits of thinking will, I am persuaded, be discernible in this work, the character of the com

* Quint. liv. i. de Legib. par. 2, 3. + Vide Phot, Biblioth. sect. civ,

Vide Polyb. Megal. Histor. lib. xii. sect. 6.

[ocr errors]

position will be adapted to history, of which Quintilian says, and which Mr. Fox well knew, “scribitur ad narrandum, non ad probandum ; totumque opus non ad pugnam præsentem, sed ad memoriam posteritatis, et ingenii famam componitur." *

Note 6, p. 13.

You will not be displeased with me for applying to our friend that which is recorded of Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, two venerable Fathers of the Christian Church, who united great learning with great activity in their labours for the benefit of mankind: γραμματικής μεν αυτοίς, ουδοτιoύν παρείτο λαθών, ου μέτρων επιστήμη, ου ποιητικοί σκοποί, και τροποι: ουχ ιστορίας πλήθος, ου πολιτικής λέξεως καθαρότης : ρητορικής δε το της φράσεως κάλλος απανθησάμενοι, το ψεύδος εξέκλιναν." +

Note 7, p. 19.

These seeming repetitions in Mr. Fox's speeches, which of fended shallow critics, were real excellencies. You remember the distinction made by Carneades, when he said, “Clitomachum eadem dicere, Charmidam autem eadem eodem modo dicere."

Note 8, p. 20.

I differed from our friend upon the comparative merits of the Greek and Roman orators, and shall state my opinion in the words of Mr. Hume: “The manner of Demosthenes is much more chaste and austere than that of Cicero. Could it be copied, its success would be infallible over a modern assembly. "Tis rapid harmony, exactly adjusted to the sense. 'Tis vehement reasoning, without any appearance of art. 'Tis disdain, anger, boldness, freedom, involved in a continued stream of argument: and of all human productions the orations of Demos

* Lib. x. c. 1.

+ Vide Greg. Nazianz. Vit. p. 15, prefixed to his works in the Paris edit. 1630, vol. i.

# Cicero, Orator,

par. 158.

« ForrigeFortsæt »