Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

A peculiar energy, says the same author, in ano"ther place, constitutes his character, and sets him " above equality. His discourse is a series of induc

a “tions, conclusions, and demonstrations, formed by

common sense. His reasoning, of which the force

perpetually increases, rises by degrees, and with “ precipitation, to the pitch he would carry it. He

attacks openly, he pushes forward, and at last re• duces the auditor to such streights, that there is no further retreat for him. But on this occasion, the “auditor, far from being ashamed of his defeat, feels " the pleasure which submitting to reason affords. Isocrates, said Philip, pushesonly with a foil, but De"mosthenes fights with the sword... We see in him a

man, who has no other enemies but those of the

state, nor any passion but the love of order and "justice. A man, whose aim is not to dazzle but to

inform; not to please, but to be useful.

ploys no other ornaments, but such as grow out " of his subject; nor any flowers but those he finds in “his way. One would conclude, that he desired no" thing farther than to be understood, and that he gained admiration without seeking it. Not that he " is devoid of graces, but then they are those only " of an austere kind, and such as are compatible with s the candour and ingenuity he professed. In his

writings, truth is not set off with paint, nor does " he make it effeminate with intent to adorn it ; no “ kind of ostentation, or retrospect upon himself; he “ neither shows nor regards himself, but is entirely " confined to his cause; and his cause is always the

preservation or advantage of his country.” II. OF CICERO'S ELOQUENCE, COMPARED WITH

He em

TIIAT OF DEMOSTHENES,

[0] Two orators, though very different in style and character, may yet be equally perfect; so that it would

[0] In his oratoribus illud ani. Ita'dissimiles erant inter se, statuere madvertendum est, posse esse sum. ut tamen non posses utrius te malles mos, qui inter se sint dissimiles... similiorem. Brut. n. 204. & 148.

not

[ocr errors]

not be easy to determine which of them we should chuse to resemble.

Perhaps this rule, with which Cicero furnishes us, may be of service in the judgment we are to form between him and Demosthenes.

Both excelled in the three kinds of writing, as every one must do who is truly eloquent. They knew how to vary their style as their subjects varied; sometimes simple and subtile [p] in causes of small consequence, in narrations and proofs; and at others, adorned and embellished, when there was a necessity of pleasing; sometimes elevated and sublime, when the dignity of the subject required it. [9] Cicero makes this remark, and he quotes for examples Demosthenes and himself,

Quintilian has drawn a fine parallel between these two orators. [r] “ The qualities, says he, on which “ Eloquence is founded, were alike in both; such

as the design, the order, the disposition, the divi. “sion, the method of preparing the auditors, and the “proving; and, in a word, every thing that is rela..

a “tive to invention. “[s] But there is some difference in their style. The one is more concise, the other more diffusive; the

one pushes closer to his adversary, the other allows “ him a larger spot to fight upon. The one is always “ endeavouring to pierce him, as it were, with the

vivacity of his style; the other often bears him “ down with the weight of his discourse. Nothing

can be retrenched from the one, nor added to the

[] Je ine sers ici de ce mot, quæ sunt inventionis. Quint. I. 10. quoique dans notre langue il porte une autre idée que le subtilis des [s] In eloquendo est aliqua di. Latins.

versitas. Densior ille, hic copiosior. · [9] In Orat. n. 102, 103, & 110, Ille concludit astrictiùs, hic latiùs

pugnat. Ille *

acumine semper, [r] Horum ego virtutes pleras- hic frequenter & pondere. Illi nique arbitror similes: consilium: or- hil detrahi potest, huic nihil adjici. dinem : dividendi, præparandi, Curæ plus in illo, in hoc naturæ. probandi rationem; omnia denique

The translator has tbus rendered this passage, L'un est toujours sub. til dans la dispute, cc. I do not think that subtilty is meant here, but beo lieve ibat the metaphor is borrowed from a sword.

other,

C. 1.

111.

F 4

[ocr errors]

ness.

other. Demosthenes has more care and study, " and Cicero more nature and genius.

[t] As to raillery, and the exciting commisera“tion, both which are of vast effect in Eloquence, “ Cicero has undoubtedly the advantage in these.

[u] But he yields to him in this respect, viz. that Demosthenes lived before him; and that Cicero,

though a very extraordinary man, owes part of his merit to the Athenian orator. For, my opinion is, " that Cicero, having bent all his thoughts to the

Greeks, in order to form himself upon their model, compounded his character out of Demosthenes's strength, Plato's copiousness, and Isocrates's sweet

And such was his application, that he not “ only extracted everything extraordinary from those

great originals, but produced, as it were, by the happy fruitfulness of his divine genius, the greatest part of those very perfections, or rather all of them.

For, to use an expression of Pindar, he does not collect the waters of heaven to remedy his natural “subtleness; but finds a spring of living water with" in himself, which is ever tlowing with vehemence " and impetuosity; and one would conclude, that the “ Gods had given him to the world, in order that

Eloquence might exert her utmost strength in the person of this great man.

[.2] And indeed, what man was ever more exact "in instructing, or moved the passions with greater

« force? (0) Salibus certè & commisera. beatissimâ ubertate. Non enim tione (qui duo plurimùm affectus pluvias (ut ait Pindarus) aquas col. valent) vincimus.

ligit, sed vivo gurgite exundat, do[u] Cedendum verò in hoc qui- no quodam Providentiæ genitus, in dem, quòd & ille prior fuit, & ex quo totas vires suas eloquentia exmagna parteCiceronem, quantus est, periretur. fecit. Nam mihi videtur Marcus [x] Nam quis docere diligentiTullius, cùm se totum ad imitatio- ùs, movere vehementiùs potest? Cui nem Græcorum contulisset, effinx- tanta unquam jucunditas affuit? u isse viin Demosthenis, copiam Pla- ipsa illa quæ extorquet, impetrare tonis, jucunditatem Isocratis. Nec euin credas, & cum transversum vi verò quod in quoque optimum fuit suâ judicem ferat, tamen ille non studio consecutus est tantùm, sed rapi videatur, sed sequi. - Jain in plurimas vel potiùs omnes ex se ipso omnibus quæ dicet tanta auctoritas virtutes extulit immortalis ingenji inest, ut dissentire pudeat; nec advocati studium, sed testis aut judicis minibus ætatis suæ regnare in judiafferat fidem. Cùm interim hæc ciis dictus est, apud posteros verò omnia, quæ vix singula quisquam id consecutus, ut Cicero jam non intentissimâ curâ consequi posset, hominis sed eloquentiæ nomen hafluunt illaborata: & illa, quâ nihil beatur. Hunc igitur fpectemus: pulchrius auditu est, oratio præ se hoc propositum nobis sit exempluin. fert tamen felicissimam facilitatem. Ille se profecisse sciat, cui Cicero (0) Quare non immeritò ab ho valdè placebit.

6

“ force? What orator has such a profusion of charms as him we are speaking of?

These are so great, “ that we think we grant him what he forces from us; “and, when he hurries away the judges by his im

petuosity, as with a torrent, they think they fol" low him of their own accord, at the very time they

are forced along. Besides, he delivers himself with

so much reason and weight, that we are ashamed to “ differ in opinion from him. We do not find in him “the zeal of a lawyer, but the integrity of a witness “and of a judge. And these several particulars,

everyone of which would cost anotherinfinite pains, “flow naturally, and, as it were, of themselves, “ from him; so that his manner of writing, though

so beautiful and inimitable, is nevertheless so easy “and natural, that one would conclude it had not “ cost him any pains.

[y] His cotemporaries therefore had reason to say, that he exercised a kind of empire at the bar. " And it was but justice in those who succeeded him, "to esteem him so highly, that the name of Cicero is now less the name of a man, than of Eloquence il

Let us therefore keep our eyes perpetually upon him; let this orator be our model, and we may “ depend that we have made a great improvement, “when we love and have a taste for Cicero.

Quintilian did not dare to form a judgment upon these two great orators; he however seems to have a secret prejudice in favour of Cicero.

Father Rapin is equally cautious and reserved in his comparison between those orators. I should be obliged to copy his whole treatise, were I to repeat all his beautiful reflections on this subject. But some short

6 self.

extracts

extracts inform us sufficiently of the difference to be found between them.

“ Besides that solidity, says he, speaking of Cicero, " which comprised so much sense and prudence, he “had a certain beauty and quintessence of wit, which enabled him to embellish all his ideas; and he " heightened every thing that occurred to his imagination, with the most beautiful turns, and the “most animated colours in nature. Whatever sub"ject he might treat, even the most abstracted mata

ters in logic, the driest topics in natural philosophy,

the most knotty points in law, or the most intricate " in business; all these, I say, when delivered by

him, assumed that sprightliness, and all those graces so natural to him. For, we must confess, that no

man ever spoke with so much judgment or beauty “ on all subjects.

“Demosthenes, says he elsewhere, discovers the reality and solidity of every reason that presents it

self to his mind, and has the art of displaying it in “all its force. Cicero, besides the solid, which never

escapes him, sees whatever is agreeable and en

gaging, and traces it directly. In order, therefore, to distinguish the characters of these two orators by “their real difference, methinks we may say, that Demosthenes, from the impetuosity of his temper, “ the strength of his reason, and the vehemence of

, “his action, had more force than Cicero; as Cicero,

by his soft and delicate deportinent, by his gentle, piercing, and passionate emotions, and his many natural

graces, was more affecting than Demos" thenes. The Grecian struck the mind by the strength of his expression, and the ardour and violence of “his declamation; the Roman reached the art by

certain charms and imperceptible beauties, which were natural to him, and which were heightened by all the art that Eloquence is capable of. The

one dazzled the understanding by the splendour of “ his light, and threw a confusion into the soul, which was won by the understanding only; and the insi

nuating

« ForrigeFortsæt »