« AnteriorContinuar »
* In the management of arguments, Burke may perhaps be esteemed less regular than Cicero: his narrative and argumentative. parts are often blended. Cicero is more methodical, and arranges his arguments in a more connected series, so that the one may support the other. From Cicero's arrangement, a reader may sooner comprehend the whole of his reasoning, than from Burke's the whole of his reasoning: and in that particular Cicero is, no doubt, superior to Burke. It may be said, that the hearers of Cicero not being so well informed and enlightened men as those of Burke, the most exact and luminous order was absolutely necessary to convey the arguments with effect to their minds: whereas, Burke's hearers, if the arguments were intrinsically good, could perceive their force, though not arranged with the greatest art, and in the closest connection. It may also be alledged, that Cicero himself is less scrupulously attentive to lucid order, in his speeches against Catiline, and other orations to the senate, than in that for Manilius's bill, and other harangues to the people. But as even the ablest and most learned men, though they can comprehend arguments, independently of their dispo. sition, yet can more quickly comprehend them if connected than detached, Cicero's arrangement is better than Burke's. In some of his principal speeches, Burke's disposition is as regular as that of Cicero.
Language also appears to have occupied a greater proportion of Cicero's attention than of Burke's; his words and phrases are nicely chosen, his sentences are dexterously turned, his style is harmonious, elegant, and splendid: Burke's language is chiefly eminent for clearness, propriety, copiousness, and force; he does not particularly study musical cadence in the structure of his periods: his style is highly adorned, but his ornaments are the ornaments of genius, not of rhetoric ; not of the body, but of the soul of his discourse, On the whole, the mechanism of composition was evidently more studied by Cicero than by Burke. Cicero aims so much at beauty and magnificence, . .. Y3
as sometimes to impair his strengh: for smoothness and harmony he is not unfrequently indebted to enervation. Very great attention to rhetoric is seldom united with masculine strength and profound philosophy. In the flowing numbers of Isocrates we rarely meet the force of Demosthenes. Perhaps in none of his writings does Cicero shew more the uncommon vigour of his understanding ; his complete knowledge of human nature; his intimate acquaintance with the laws and constitution of his country, with its politics during that momentous æra; his comprehension of the general characters and particular views of the celebrated actors during the last scene of the republic, than in his letters : compositions containing the most valuable information, most acute and energetic reasoning, without any of his oratorical pomp of language. They are the plain strong sense of a most able man, writing upon important business. Cicero was certainly a man not only of the greatest penetration and vigour, but also of very profound philosophy and expanded wisdom, His treatises on the most important subjects of philosophy, on the religious, civil, social, and political relations and duties of man, have little ornament of style: the language is merely perspicuous, precise, and strong: The expression of Cicero's letters and philosophical disquisitions is more the expression of wisdom than that of his orations,
In their speeches, Burke's obvious end is to impress on you his views of the subject : Cicero's not only to impress on you his views of the subject, but to strike you with an admiration of the orator. Burke tries to inform, convince, please, and persuade the hearer : Cicero to inform, convince, please, affect, and persuade the hearer; and at the same time to shew him how well the speaker can speak. In many of his speeches, the display of his powers seems to have been his principal object: in his defence of Milo it must have been his sole purpose, because, in fact, it was never spoken.
From the diversity of circumstances, much similarity in materials neither did, nor indeed could, exist between these or any Brițish and Roman orators. In the conduct of their speeches there might have been likeness; but in fact we do not find very much. In his performances of unadorned information and instruction, Cicero resembles the narra, tives and ratiocination of Burke, more than in his ornamented eloquence; even in these the likeness is not special. Where convicţion is the sole object, they agree in using plain language, as the best adapted for that purpose. Being both men of extraordinary wisdom, they, upon practical subjects, argue as ALL MEN OF TRUE WISDOM ARGUE,— from experience, and not from metaphysical disținstion. They were both first-rate speakers, according to the circumstances of their respective situațions and countries : but their compositions were no more particularly like thạn those of Hume and Fergusson to those of Tacitus ; of Robertson or of Gibbon to Livy's : because the four Britons resembled