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was so changed, that there was no knowing her. Thus she fell by degrees from the beautiful and the perfect, to the mediate or indifferent, whence she plunged into every kind of error and excess.
I observed in another place, in speaking of Seneca, that the Latin Eloquence met with the same fate.
Possibly the same reasons may justly make us apprehend the like misfortune, especially when we consider, that those changes proceeded wholly, both in the Athenian and Roman Eloquence, from an excessive desire of setting her off with too much pomp
and parade. For I know not by what fatality it has always happened, that as soon as taste was arrived at a certain degree of maturity and perfection, it almost iinmediately degenerated, and fell by imperceptible gradations, tho' sometimes very suddenly, from the summit of perfection to barbarity. I except, however, the Greek poetry, every species of which, from Homer to Theocritus and his cotemporaries, that is, for six or seven centuries, preserved the same purity and elegance.
We may affirm, to the glory of our own nation, that our taste, with regard to polite literature, has been exquisite for near a century, and still continues so. But it is remarkable, that those celebrated writers, who have done so much honour to France, each of whom may be considered as an original in his way, thought it a duty incumbent on them to consider the ancients as their masters; and that the writings in the greatest esteem among us, and which in all probability will descend to the latest posterity are all formed on the model of the celebrated among the ancients. This ought also to be our rule; and we may be assured that we deviate as much from perfection, as we depart from the taste of the ancients.
But to return, and conclude this article; the best model for youth designed for the bar, is, as was before observed, Demosthenes's style, softened and adorned with that of Cicero, in such a manner, that the severity of the former be qualified with the graces
of the latter; and that the conciseness and vivacity of Demosthenes may correct the luxuriancy, and perhaps the too loose [n] way of writing, with which Cicero is reproached.
A more florid kind of Eloquence, such, for example, as that of M. Flechier, is no way suitable to lawyers. I never read the picture which Cicero gives of an orator of his time called Callidius, but I discover most of M. Flechier's principal characters in it; and the reflection he makes upon it, seems to me very well adapted to the matter I am now treating.
“ “He was not, says he, an orator of an ordinary rank, "but one of singular and uncommon merit. His
thoughts are great and exquisite, and he clothes " them in delicate words. He managed a discourse
as he pleased, and could throw it into any form ;
no orator was ever more master of his subject, or "handled it with greater art. Nothing is purer or
more flowing than his diction; every word stands "in its proper place, and is set in, as it were, by a
masterly hand. He admits nothing harsh, obso" lete, low, or that can confuse or disorder a discourse. " He uses metaphors frequently, but they are so na[n] Dial. de Orat. n. 18. se in suam diceres. Nec verò hæc
o] Sed de M. Callidio dicamus soluta, nec diffluentia, sed adstricta aliquid, qui non fuit orator unus è numeris, non apertè nec eodem multis ; potiùs inter multos prope modo semper, sed variè dissimulane singularis fuit: ita reconditas ex. terque conclusis. Erant autem & quisitas que sententias mollis & pels verborum & sententiarum lumina lucens vestiebat oratio. Nihil tam .. quibus tantum insignibus in tenerum quàm illius comprehensio ornatu distinguebatur omnis oratio. verborum : nihil tam flexibile : ni- ... Accedebat ordo rerum plenus hil quod magis ipsius arbitrio finge- artis, totumque dicendi placidum retur, ut nullius oratoris æquè in & sanum genus. Quod si est optipotestate fuerit. Quæ primùm ita mum suaviter dicere, nihil est quod pura erat, ut nihil liquidius; ita melius hộc quærendum putes. Sed liberè fluebat, ut nusquam adhæ. cum à nobis paulò antè dictum sit, resceret. Nullum nisi loco positum, tria videri esse, quae orator efficere & tanquam in vermiculato emble- deberet, ut doceret, ut delectaret, mate, ut ait Lucilius, structum ver- ut moveret : duo summè tenuit, ut bum videres. Nec verò ullum aut & rem illustraret disserendo, & ania durum, aut insolens, aut humile, mos eorum qui audirent demulceret aut in longius ductum. Ac non voluptate. Aberat tertia illa laus, propria verba rerum, sed pleraque quâ permoveret atque incitaret anitralata ; sic tamen ut ea, non irru- mos, quam plurimùm pollere dixiisse in alienum locum, sed immigrâs. mus. Brut: n. 274, 275, 276. VOL. II, G
“ tural, that they seem less to assume the place of “ other words, than to possess their own. All this
is accompanied with harmony and cadence surpris
ingly various, and yet far from affectation. "lle “ aptly employs the most beautiful figures, which “add a strong lustre to his writings. We see the
utmost art and justness in the order and plan of his
work; and the style of the whole is easy, calın, and “in an exquisite taste. In a word, if Eloquence con“ sisted in beauty only, nothing could be superior to " this orator.
Of the three parts which constitute it, "he is a perfect master of the two first; I mean those “ which tend to please and instruct; but he is quite “ deficient in the third species, which is the most " considerable, I mean that by which the passions "are moved.”
We ought certainly to set a high value upon this kind of Eloquence; but in what light will it appear when compared to the great and the sublime, which is the characteristic of that of Demosthenes? The latter resembles those beautiful and magnificent buildings, formed after the taste of ancient architecture, that admits only of simple ornaments; the first view of which, and much more the plan, the economy and distribution of the several parts, exhibit something so great, noble, and majestic, that they strike and charm the artist at the same instant. The other may be compared to houses built in an elegant and delicate taste, to which art and opulence have annexed whatever is rich and splendid ; in which gold and marble are every where seen, and where the eye is perpetually delighted with something curious and exquisite.
There is a third kind of Eloquence, which, in my opinion, is also inferior to the second, and may
lead us insensibly to something worse ; I mean that which abounds with sallies of wit, bright thoughts, and a kind of points, which are now so much in vogue. These are supported in some of our writers, by the justness of ideas, the strength of argument, the order
and series of discourse., and natural beauty of genius. But, as the last qualities are very uncommon, we. have just reason to fear that their imitators will copy all the vices and defects of their style, as did Seneca's imitators ; [p] for these, by copying only his faults, were as much inferior to the model they proposed to follow, as Seneca himself to the ancients.
The Bar was always, but now more than ever, an enemy to this dazzling, affected style. The grave discourses of those judicious magistrates, who, when they prescribe the true rules of Eloquence every year to pleaders, point out at the same time perfect models to them, are strong barriers against a vicious taste; and contribute very much towards perpetuating, in courts of justice, that happy traditional good taste, as well as just sentiments, which they have so long retained.
Before I conclude this article, I should treat a point in which several young students will one day want to be instructed ; I mean to point out the style proper for Reports. This branch is of much more frequent use, and more extensive, in our days, than the Eloquence of the Bar; for it takes in all who are concerned in the law, and is practised in all the superior and inferior courts, in all companies, in all public offices, and in all commissions. To succeed in this kind of declamation, is as glorious as the pleading of causes, and as useful for the defence of justice and innocence. However, I can treat but very slightly of this matter here, and will only explain the principles of it, without being very particular.
I am sensible, that every judge and every court have their particular usages and customs in reporting cases. But all have the same foundation; and the style on these occasions must be the same everywhere. There is a sort of Eloquence peculiar to this kind of
[p] Amabant eum magis, quàin quis descenderat. Quintil. 1. 10. imitabantur; tantùmque ab illo defluebant, quantùm ille ab anti
discourse, which consists, if I am not mistaken, in speaking with perspicuity and elegance.
The end proposed by a person who reports cases, is, to inform the judges, his colleagues, of the affair upon which they are to give judgment in conjunction with him. He is charged, in their names, with the examination of it. He becomes, on that occasion, the eye, as it were, of the company. He communicates to them all the lights and informations possible. But to do this effectually, the subjects he undertakes to treat must be methodized in such a manner, the several facts and proofs so disposed, and the whole so perspicuousand clear, that all may easily comprehend the Report. All things must conspire to this perspicuity; the thoughts, the expressions, the turns, and even the utterance, which must be distinct, easy, and calm.'
I observed, that to beauty must be joined perspicuity, because we must often please, in order to instruct. Judges are but men, and though they are attached to truth and justice, abstracted from all other considerations, it is however proper to attach them still more strongly to them, by something taking and delightful. Causes which are generally obscure and full of difficulties, occasion tediousness and disgust, if the person who makes the report does not take care to render it agreeable, by a certain elegance and delicacy of wit, which strikes us without affecting to display itself, and, by a certain charm and grace, awakens and excites the attention of the hearers.
Addresses to the passions, wherein the greatest force of Eloquence consists in other cases, are here absolutely prohibited. The person who makes the report, does not speak as an advocate, but as a judge. In this view, he maintains one of the characteristics of the law, which, while it is serene and calm itself, points out the rule and duty; and, as he himself is commanded to be free from passions, he is not allowed to attempt to excite them in others.