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against schines. One excellence however I cannot too much commend in Demosthenes, nor can I in this respect too strongly recommend his example to young orators. His arguments all tend to a single point, and are concentrated, like the dispersed rays of light when reflected from a concave mirror, so as to bear altogether with their united force upon the object he has in view. He never excurses into too large a field, never loses sight of his subject. This, I think, was the characteristic excellence of Mr. Fox's oratory. Other speakers greatly excelled Mr. Fox in choice of words, in voice, address and manner; but no man equalled him in the selection, force, and happy arrangement of his arguments.
Cicero, who is the only orator of antiquity who will bear a comparison with Demosthenes, and who perhaps possessed more genius, at least more imagination, was more diffuse, and consequently feebler than his Grecian rival. I think Quinctilian, in his celebrated comparison between Cicero and Demosthenes, says, the one nothing can be added, from the other nothing can be taken away." The latter character, which applies strictly to Demosthenes,
you will easily perceive implies more judgment in him, and speaks him the more forcible orator; such indeed he must have been, though the beauties of Cicero, when separately considered, will perhaps attract the highest admiration.
Though so accomplished an orator, Demosthenes was certainly a very bad general, and not a much better politician. He had moreover the misfortune never to be obeyed by his versatile countrymen but when he happened to give bad advice; and the jarring and inconsistent councils of a discordant republic, soon gave way before the persevering and steady policy of Philip of Macedon. With Demosthenes, therefore, fell the liberties of his country, and with ^ him perished the eloquence of Greece. Those who succeeded were a race of sophists, and pedantic rhetoricians, who taught the art merely in the schools, and never introduced it (indeed they never had an opportunity after their country was enslaved) upon great or public questions.
Oratory was however studied as a fine art, under these masters, long after it ceased to be useful in Greece; and even the Romans, when
they became civilized, and applied to literature, regarded rhetoric as one of the most important lessons to which they could attend under their more polished teachers of Greece.
There never was a finer field for eloquence than was opened at Rome. Her government was popular; her judicature popular. With } oratory their statesmen influenced the senate; with a public harangue their generals led on their armies to battle and to conquest. I cannot therefore believe, with the French critics and Dr. Blair, that they were greatly inferior in this art to their Grecian rivals.
The Romans, it is true, were a military nation; but though this circumstance is but little favourable to the cultivation of the more profound sciences, can a nobler scope be afforded for that manly and energetic eloquence, which great projects and great undertakings naturally dictate? It might want something of that elegance and polish which Greece, where every pleasing and ornamental art was known to flourish, could boast. Their manner of speaking might be, to use the words of Cicero, somewhat 66 asperum & horridum;" but can it be believed that it was deficient in dignity, and in
vigour? I am not prepared therefore to subscribe to the opinion that Cicero was the only orator that Rome could boast. I shall not quote as authentic documents, the orations which are found in Livy; but if we may judge from the effects, the orations of the Gracchi must have been exceedingly powerful. Scipio appears to have been not less of an orator than a soldier. The two Cato's might not be polished speakers, but they certainly commanded attention in the senate. With respect to Cæsar, Hortensius, and even Anthony, we have the testimony of Cicero himself, and after such an authority we have no right to think meanly of their talents.
After the accession of Augustus, there was scarcely any thing deserving of the name of eloquence in that poor shadow of popular authority, which was called the senate of Rome. The few specimens which are extant, evince that the history of Rome, under the emperors, consisted chiefly of studied panegyrics, or orations on state occasions, like the declamations of the French academy, which nobody reads. They might be indeed sufficiently ornamented and polished; but they want interest, because
we know they were mere artificial composi tions, without a relation to any great undertaking or transaction of public life. The best specimen extant of these, is the panegyric of the younger Pliny on the Emperor Trajan.
We have also some examples extant of that kind of eloquence which was taught in the schools of rhetoric, particularly the Controversiæ, as they are called, of Seneca the rhetorician, the father of the famous philosopher of that name. They are altogether artificial, full of antitheses and studied ornament. Yet much as I admire the genius of Dr. Johnson, whoever looks into these orations, will find that our great writer was not unacquainted with the Controversiæ of Seneca.
After the preaching of christianity a new style of oratory was introduced, of the highest importance as to the subject, but less ani. mated than the eloquence of debate, because of a more didactic nature. The Epistles of Paul, however, and even some of the later Fathers, contain specimens of eloquence superior to any, I will affirm, to be found in the compositions of either Cicero or Demosthenes.
A late French writer, the unfortunate Mar