Billeder på siden

Je le pris tout sanglant. En baignant son visage,
Mes pleurs du sentiment lui rendirent l'usage :
Et soit frayeur encore, ou pour me caresser,
De ses bras innocens je me sentis presser.
“ Alas! the state in which heav'n gave him to me,
“ Returns each moment to my frighted soul;
“ The room was fill’d around with murder'd princes.
“Dread Athaliah, with her sword unsheath'd,
“ Rous'd her barbarian soldiers to the slaughter,
“ And still pursued the series of her murders.
“Joas, now left as dead ! struck strong my sight :
“ Methinks I still behold his weeping nurse,

Kneeling, in vain, before the bloody hangman ;
The tender babe upon her breast reclin'd.

I took him bloody : bathing then his face, “ Soon did my tears recal his fleeting breath. “ Whether 'twas fear, or whether to embrace me, “I felt him press me with his tender arms."

M. Flechier's description of hospitals may serve as a model in this kind. "Tis in the queen's funeral oration. “Let us behold her in these hospitals, where

she practised her public acts of pity; in those places, “where all the infirmities and accidents of human

life are assembled ; where the groans and complaints of those who suffer, and are in pain, fill

the soul with sympathetic sadness; where the smell “that exhales from the bodies of so many diseased pa

tients, makes those who attend upon them ready to “ faint away; where we see pain and poverty exer“cising their fatal empire; and where the image of

misery and death strikes almost every sense. It is

there, that raising herself above the fears and deli“cacies of nature, to satisfy her charity, though at * the hazard of her health, she was seen every week

drying up the tears of this object; providing for “the wants of that: procuring remedies and com“ forts for the evils of some, and consolations and “ ease of conscience for others." These passages are very well adapted to the taste of

youth. youth. [6] We must observe to them, that the most certain way of succeeding in descriptions of this kind is to consult nature, to study her well, and to take her as a guide; so that every one, inwardly sensible of the truth of what is spoken, may find within himself the sentiments expressed in the discourse. [c] For that purpose we must represent to ourselves, in a lively manner, all the circumstances of the thing to be described, and bring it before us by the strength of our imagination, as if we had been spectators of it. [d] And why, says Quintilian, should not the imagination perform as much for the orator on this occasion, as she does for people who are addicted to any kind of passions? as for instance, misers and ambitious men, who in this kind of pleasing dreams, in which they form a thousand chimerical projects of fortune and riches, abandon themselves so much to the object of their darling passion, and are so strongly possessed with it, that they really believe they see and enjoy it.

Quintilian himself furnishes us with a model of this way of making a description, which I will quote at length, because it shews youth how they must proceed in it, in order to compose well., [e] Ut hominem occisum querar, non omnia, quæ in re prasenti accidisse credibile est, in oculis habebo ? Non percussor ille subitus erumpet ? non exparescet circumventus ? exclamabit, vel rogabit, rel fugiet? non ferientem, non concidentem videbo? non animo sanguis, & pallor, & gemitus, extremus denique expirantis hiatus insidet?“ In order to aggra“ vate the circumstances of a murder, should I not

I. 8. c. 3.

[b] Naturam intueamur, hanc se- res, voces, actus secundum verum quanur. Omnis eloquentia circa optimè fingit. Quint. I. 6. c. 2. opera vitæ est; ad se refert quisque [d] Nam si inter otia animorum que audit : & id facillimè accipi- & spes inanes, & velut somnia quæunt animi, quod cognoscunt. Quint. dai vigilantium, ita nos hæ de qui

bus loquimur imagines prosequun. [C]Per quas (Qurracias) imagines tur, ut peregrinari, navigare, przererum absentium ita repiæsentan- liari, populos alloqui, divitiarum tur anino, ut eas cernere oculis ac quas non habemus usum videamur præsentes habere videamur. Has disponere, nec cogitare, sed facere: quisquis bene conceperit, is erit in hoc animi vitium ad utilitatem non affectibus potentissimus. Hunc qui- transferemus ? Ibid. dam dicunt, spartaciwtor, qui sibi (] Quint. I. 6. c. 2,

call up to my imagination every thing that might possibly happen in such a case ? Shall not he that

gave the blow suddenly burst forth? Shall he not “tremble when laid hold on? Will he not either cry

out, or ask for pity, or attempt to escape? Shall “I not represent the one as striking, the other as falling? Will not the blood, the paleness, the groans,

, nay, even the last sighs of the deceased, be present “ to my mind ?” This passage seems to be copied from Cicero, who thus describes a like action. [f] Nonne vobis hæc, quæ audistis, cernere oculis videmini, judices? Non illum miserum ignarum casús sui, redeuntem à caná videtis ? non positas insidias ? non impetum repentinum ? Non versatur ante oculos vobis in cæde Glaucia? Non adest iste Roscius ? non suis manibus in curru collocat. Automedontem illum, sui sceleris acerbissimi nefariæque victoria nuncium ? “Do you not, my judges, seem to behold “ what has been thus related to you? Do you not

see that poor man, ignorant of his fate, returning from supper? Do you not behold the assassins in

ambush their sudden irruption? Does not Glau- . “cia secm active in this horrid scene? Is not Roscius “ also there assisting? Does he not, with his own “hands, place his Automedon, if I may so speak, “ that partner of his guilt, and messenger of his cruel success, in the chariot by him?"

IMAGES. The last words of the description I have here cited, direct me to point out to youth in this place one of the most common sources of oratorial beauties, which consists in giving, as it were, body and reality to the things we are speaking of; and painting them by visible strokes, which may strike the senses, move the imagination, and present a sensible object. This method has some relation to the precedent figure, the hypotyposis, and perhaps is a part of it. Non suis mu

[8] Pro Rosc. Amer. n. 98. VOL. IL



[ocr errors]

nibus in curru collocat Automedontem illum? These words, suis manibus, produce here the effect I am speaking of, and present an image to the mind. The same observation may be made on the two verses above-cited. Un poignard à la main, l'implacable Athalie Au carnage animoit ses barbares soldats.

Englished. “ Fierce Athaliah, in her hand a poniard,

* Prompted her savage soldiers to the slaughter." This touch, with a poniard in her hand, forms all the vivacity of these lines. The objects we describe may be painted in this manner with infinite variety, of which I shall give several examples, that the reader may apply to the rule I have already given.

[g] Tendit ad vos virgo restalis manus supplices easdem, quas pro vobis diis immortalibus tendere consuevit. . . Prospicite ne ignis.ille æternus, nocturnis Fonteix laboribus vigiliisque servatus, sacerdotis V’esta lacrymis extincius esse dicatur. “ The vestal "stretches forth to you her suppliant hands, those “ hands with which she has often implored the gods “ for your safety. Be mindful, lest that eternal fire, " which has been kept alive be the nightly watchings

and labours of Fonteia, should be in a manner quenched by the tears of this sacred priestess.

[h] Hac magnitudo maleficii facit, ut, nisi pene manifestum parricidium proferatur, credibile non sit. . . . Penè dicam respersas manus sanguine paterno judices videant oportet, si tantum facinus, tam immane, tum acerbum credituri sint.

ness of the crime of parricide is such, that unless "it be almost manifest, it should not be believed. I “had alınost said, that the judges should even see " the murderer's hands red with his father's blood, “ before they give credit to his committing a crime

so hideous and so unnatural.” [8] Pro. M. Font. n. 37, 38. b) Pro Rosc. Amer. n. 68.


* The great


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

[2] What nation has not felt the effects of his “ valour; and which of our frontier towns has not “ served as a theatre to his glory.

“In the tumult and noise of armies, he used to en“tertain himself with the sweet and secret hopes of “solitude. With one hand he fell upon the Ama“ lekites, while the other was lifted up to draw down upon himself the blessings of heaven.

It taught him to lift up his pure, his innocent “hands, to heaven.

“ Before he accepted of any post or employment, “ he would know the duties of it. The first tribunal *he ascended, was that of his conscience, there to “examine his intentions thoroughly.

“ When he restored God's worship in his con“quests, and as he was marching upon those ramparts “ he had a little before demolished, his first homage “ was his offering to God the laurels he had won, at " the foot of his altars which he restored.

“ I am not afraid of blending her praises with the “ sacrifice offered for her; and I take from the altar “all the incense I burn upon her tomb. ... Why “ should I take off the veil which she threw over her " actions ?

“He made it his study to discover truth, through “the veils of falsehood and imposture with which human lusts cover it.

[k] Are such truths learnt at court, in the army, “ under the helmet, and the coat of mail?

[?] You think then, that anxiety, and the most deadly sorrows, are not to be hid under royal robes;

or that a kingdom is an universal remedy against all " eyils ?

“ Methinks I still see that flower falling.' Speaking of the death of an infant prince.

“When all things submitted to Lewis, and we be« lieved the miraculous times were returning, when « walls fell down at the sound of trumpets; the “whole nation cast their eyes on the queen, and [1] Flechier. [4] Mascar.

[!] Bossuet, © 2


[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »