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After the Orator, therefore, has taken a comprehensive view of his subject, and has considered every point which may favor his purpose, or be urged against him, he must endeavour, in the opening of his speech, which is called the Exordium, to secure the attention of his hearers, by impressing upon their minds a just sense of the importance of the subject, and begetting a favorable opinion of his equality to the discussion of it. But this must be done in a modest and insinuating manner, without the least shew of self-confidence, or any pretension to superior merit. A long preface also would be an unpardonable abuse of the time and patience of others, who are never better disposed to listen, than when they are relieved from the fear of a long harangue by the brevity of the introduction, and by a seemingly artless statement of the point or points upon which the orator means to enlarge. This statement is called the Proposition, and is always immediately accompanied by a Division of the subject into different branches when necessary; that is to say, when what is too complicated to be embraced at one view, is presented in various lights with more clearness, precision, and force.
Nexs to the Exordium, the Proposition, and the Division, the Orator enters upon what is called the Narration, or detail of facts, upon which all his arguments are to be founded. In debate, or when he is to reply to others, he often finds it expedient to proceed to a Refutation of what has been impressively urged by his adversary, before he attempts to tell his own story or to draw any inferences from it. He must be as concise in his narrative as is consistent with perspicuity, never encumbering it with frivolous circumstances, and, at the same time, omitting nothing of material importance. He softens some: he heightens others; and forms a striking and well-connected tissue of the whole.
In the arrangement of his arguments and of his occasional addresses to the feelings and passions of his hearers, he must not lose sight of the similie before quoted from Cicero on the judicious marshalling or drawing up of troops in the field. The general rule is to place in the front of the battle men of the greatest strength and courage, as success so often depends upon the first onset : other troops of tried skill and firmness are to be posted in the rear, to turn, by a well-timed and decisive effort, the scale of victory, and to secure the glory of the day : soldiers of a doubtful character are stationed in the middle, so that, if they are not animated by the example of the great men before them, they may be driven on by the forcible impulse of those behind.
All this appears plausible enough in theory ; but numberless circumstances will often arise to render other tactics necessary. The orator, as well as the military commander, must not trust to any fixed rules, but to his own good sense and presence of mind, for such changes of plan as may be best suited to the exigency of the occasion.
The conclusion of the speech, or what is called the Peroration, should be a striking summary of the chief points already enlarged upon, and particularly those of a pathetic nature, often accompanied by a declaration of the speaker's reliance on the candor, discernment, justice, and sensibility of his audience.
For examples of the rules here laid down, we must refer to our selection of the most admired speeches in the English language ; but we are also happy to avail ourselves of Lord CHESTERFIELD's equally simple and elegant illustration of the same part of our subject. On finding that his son had chosen DEMOSTHENES for his model, he endeavours to confirm him in that choice, and reminds him of the uncommon pains taken by that orator to conquer many natural impediments, and to acquire a graceful and commanding elocution.
« As he took so much pains for the graces of oratory only, I conclude," says his Lordship," he took still more for the more solid parts of it. I am apt to think he applied himself extremely to the propriety, the purity, and the elegancy of his language, to the distribution of the parts of his oration,--to the force of his arguments,-to the strength of his proofs,--and to the passions as well as the judgment of his audience. I fancy he began with an Exordium, to gain the good opinion and the affections of his hearers ; that afterwards he stated the point in question briefly, but clearly; that he then brought his proofs, afterwards his arguments; and that he concluded with a Peroration, in which he recapitulated the whole succinctly, enforced the strong parts, and artfully slipped over the weak ones, and at last made a strong push at the passions of his hearers. Wherever you would persuade or prevail, address yourselves to the passions : it is by them that mankind is to be taken.”
In the old books of Rhetoric, this is called Elocution, and means the language which the Orator makes use of, or the words in which he expresses himself. But Elocution is now commonly taken in a more confined sense, as implying only the tones of voice, the utterance, the enunciation of the speaker, with the proper accompaniments of countenance and gesture, all which were included by the ancients in what they called Pronunciation. In order therefore to prevent any confusion which may arise from those different meanings, it is necessary to inform the learner, that our present remarks are confined to the ex
pression of our thoughts and sentiments by words, without any consideration of tones and gestures, which will be the subject of the next section.
There is no occasion to repeat here any of the observations before made on grammatical correctness. The efforts of the Student must now be directed to higher attainments, and particularly to the accurate choice of words, which is the foundation of all eloquence. This was the favorite axiom of Julius CESAR, whom even CiCERO placed above all other orators for a pure and elegant command of the Roman language *.
It is impossible, under this head, to lay down a better general rule than the common one, that our thoughts should always appear in a proper dress. This metaphor contains in one word much useful instruction. A good dress should be suited to the person, character, and occasion: it should always fit, so as neither to exhibit an awkward appearance by its swagging looseness, nor to prevent the easy and graceful motion of the body and limbs by keeping them in a press : it should be plain, yet neat -genteel, not foppish-occasionally rich, never tawdry sometimes even splendid and highly adorned, but only when required by the character to be supported, or by the grandeur of the scene, and the dignity of the company. In the same manner our language should be şimple, yet well chosen-conveying every idea with clearness and precision-neither encumbered by circumlocutions, on the one hand, nor cramped and obscured by enigmatical brevity, on the other correct without pedantry, elegant without affectation—copious, not redundant--full, not overflowing--but whether simple or sublime, plain or brilliant, mild, or impetuous and energetic, always taking its tone from the nature of the subject, and the effect to be produced.
De claris Oratoribus.
The old Rhetoricians, who wanted to reduce every thing to fixed rules, thought they found out an admirable method of simplifying a part of their task, by classing orations of all sorts, whatever might be the nature of the subject, or the end aimed at, under three general heads, or kinds, which they called the demonstrative, the deliberative, and the judiciul.
The first kind has for its object praise or censure ; and includes all panegyrics, invectives, funeral orations, or animated pictures of the excellence or depravity of distinguished characters. On such occasions, the orator is allowed to display all the riches of his genius, all the ornaments, copiousness, and brilliancy of his language : he is preparing to conduct the truly great and good man to the temple of immortal fame, or to consign the villain to eternal infamy: he may therefore give full scope to his talents, being under no restraint but a becoming adherence to facts, without which his praise would only be the effusion of fulsome flattery, and his censure the mere railing of a malignant declaimer.
About a century ago, the French were allowed to have borne away the palm of funeral Oratory, Bossuet by the sublimity of his panegyrics, and Flechier by the delicacy of his compliments, and by the exquisite polish, richness, and harmony of his language. This kind of eloquence has not been so much cultivated in England; but we have perhaps as masterly delineations of character in our histories, those, for instance, written by HUME, Robertson, and BELSHAM, who have adorned their narratives with many an interesting portrait, where we see the vivid colours of genius admirably chastened by the nice touches of historical truth.
In orations of the deliberative kind, the object of discussion is the expediency or inexpediency, the propriety or impropriety, the wisdom or the folly of any measure. The language in such cases must be clear, strong, argu