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Oratory.-Parts of an Oration.


MY DEAR JOHN, ORATORICAL compositions might have been comprehended under the preceding division, for they are in general either didactic or argumentative. But the form and style of orations; their intention and object, which is an address in part, at least, to the passions, have, from the first cultivation of letters, placed them in a distinct class; and this division may, as I before intimated, be allowed to include many political declamations, which have not been spoken, and even some compositions on more serious subjects, but which in their style and manner partake more of oratory than of any other art or science.

What has been already observed respecting the synthetical and analytical modes of exposition will also apply to rhetorical compositions ; but in these last the directions of critics are rather more minute, as they divide every oration into parts, and the detail and explanation of these will serve in some measure to aid you

in what I mentioned as not the least difficult part of composition, the arrangement.

The most antient writers on rhetoric and oratory have agreed in dividing an oration or discourse into five parts.

Ist. The exordium, or introduction.

2d. The narrative (narratio) or what we should in modern language call a statement of the facts.

3. The division of the arguments.

4th. The argumentative, which is generally the most important part of a discourse.

5th. The peroration, or conclusion.

This order or arrangement one of the fathers of the art affirms to be the very order of nature. « This mode of addressing an audience (says he) is dictated by nature herself; that we should say something introductory, that we should next explain the subject, that we should proceed to the proof or argument, either in confirmation of our own allegation, or in refuting what our adversary urges to the contrary ; lastly, that we should conclude by a perora.


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tion ;"* the meaning of which last word implies that it should be something conciliatory.

To these Dr. Blair adds, before the peroration 6 the pathetic parts;" but this arrangement seems chiefly applicable to a sermon. It has been represented as a trick with some popular preachers to say something pathetic immediately before the conclusion of their sermon to make the audience weep; but such orators, if indeed they are orators, are not to be imitated. When a person remarked to Swift that a sermon which they had just heard " was very moving,' he replied, “ Yes, I am sorry for it, for the man is my friend."

" But I have a more general reason for rejecting this arrangement of Dr. Blair. The pathetic is a quality rather than a part of a discourse, and it may be applicable to any part, frequently to the narrative as much as any other, though I will admit that it is introduced with most effect towards the conclusion, for the

*“ Ut aliquid ante rem dicamus, deinde ut rem exponamus; post ut eam probenius, nostris præsidiis. confirmandis, contrariis refutandis ; deinde ut concludamus, atque ita peroremus. Hoc dicendi genus natura ipsa præscribit.”-DE. OR. I. 3. c. 13.

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orator should seem to warm as he advances ; but still to prescribe that whatever is pathetic in an oration should be introduced in a parti. cular place, would be to bind genius down to mechanical rules; and what an audience always expected would soon cease to have effect.

It will not be necessary to be very diffuse in treating of the several parts of an oration. I shall therefore proceed in the order I have laid down, and first to the exordium.

This part of every discourse, as Cicero observes, is certainly founded on nature and com

Was any man to address his superior, whom he did not know, he would not begin bis suit abruptly, without knowing whether the party addressed was well affected to him, but would endeavour first to render him propitious to what he was going to advance. Thus, in the beginning of an oration, we should endeavour to render our hearers well disposed, both to the speaker and the subject.

The introduction, says Cicero, must make the hearers docile or tractable ; that is, it must render them attentive to what is to be said; but if the subject is of sufficient importance to interest the hearers, or concerns them in a particular manner, it may sometimes be omitted.

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The critics distinguish two kinds of introductions, one of which they call principium, and the other insinuatio. The first is a plain explication of the orator's motives; the second is adopted when the judges are supposed to be not well affected towards the orator or his client, and then he inust endeavour to remove all

prejudices, in order that bis discourse may have its full effect; of this kind we have an instance in Cicero's oration against Milo, and one still better in his oration against the Agrarian law.

An introduction, says Cicero, should not be taken from common-place topics, and such as may be applied with equal propriety to a num. ber of different subjects; as that “ a desire of

a happiness is the desire of all men.” It should indeed be immediately connected with the subject, and lead, but not abruptly, to it. The beginning of the first letter of Junius I have al. ways considered as a beautiful exordium.

“ The submission of a free people to the exccutive authority of government, is no more than a compliance with laws, which they themselves have enacted. While the national honour is firmly maintained abroad, and while justice is impartially administered at home, the

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