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1826 Anecdotes of Cloquence




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Percy Anecdotes.


“ -Animoque supersunt
Jam prope post animam.”


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DEMOSTHENES. “Quem mirabantur Athena Torrentem, et pleni moderantem fræna theatri.”

JUV. SAT. X. DEMOSTHENES has been styled, by one second only to himself in the gift of eloquence, the Prince of Orators ;” and the rank which Tully conferred, the common consent of the learned of all succeeding ages has amply confirmed. How delightful would it be, were we able to add, that while a Orators,” he was also a “ Prince among Men.” But truth, always most stubborn when it treats of great examples, shuts its book on the willing encomium. In the life of this Prince of Orators, we see unhappily exemplified almost every thing which is a reproach to the reputation of this noble faculty, ORATORY. Every thing which is most calculated to

- Prince among make its importance to the interests of society undervalued and despised. We see in Demosthenes the first great instance of an orator without courage; an orator without honesty; an orator without principle. We see in the story of his life, eloquence alternately exalted and debased ; now exerted for the noblest of purposes; the next moment silenced for the basest. We see a man whose philippics seem animated by the purest spirit of patriotism, afterwards sacrificing the honour of his country for a paltry bribe. We see a man who is a very hero in rousing others to fight bravely for their rights, the veriest poltroon himself in the field. We see, finally, a man who made it the pride of his life to animate others to die for their country, pusillanimously flying from the evils which environ him, and resolved to die for himself alone, seeking the coward's refuge in a suicide's grave. But, gentle reader, we forget that our business is not to expatiale, but to narrate.

His dastardly flight from the battle of Cheronæa

His skulking from the presence of Alexander, when commissioned to propitiate his clemency

We dwell not on these facts; they are circumstances which display more of the weakness, than of the wickedness of human nature.

When Harpalus, one of Alexander's officers, after betraying his master, and purloining his treasures, made his escape to Athens, it became a question with the Athenians whether they should give the traitorrobber shelter ? Demosthenes, to whose opinion the people looked up with reverence, declared at first that they ought on no account to disgrace the character of the republic, by affording refuge to one so infamous.

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