« AnteriorContinuar »
Do you ask, what is frigid? It is whatever is exaggerated; whatever is destitute of judgment; whatever pretends to wit ; whatever is written
elegance, and subtlety, and force of argument, with the • former ; but what rendered them chiefly admirable, was that pathetic and sublime, which, on proper occasions,
they threw into their discourse ; and by which they commanded the resolutions of their audience,' HUME's • Essays, No. xii. p. 123.
• The vehement style, (says Dr. BLAIR,) always implies • strength: and is not, by any means, inconsistent with simplicity: but its predominant character is distinguishable . from either the strong or the simple manner. It has a pe
culiar ardour ; it is a glowing style ; and the language of 'a man, whose imagination and passions are heated, and strongly affected by what he writes: who is therefore nego “ligent of lesser graces, but pours himself forth with the
rapidity and fulness of a torrent. It belongs to the higher • kinds of oratory; and, indeed, is rather expected from a • man who is speaking, than from one who is writing in his closet. The orations of Demosthenes furnish the full and perfect example of this species of style." BLAIR's Lectures, Lect. xix. p. 396.
Dr. BLAIR elsewhere says, “ There it a still higher de gree of Eloquence, wherein a greater power is exerted over the human mind; by which we are not only convinced, but interested, agitated, and carried along with the speaker; our passions are made to rise together with his ; we enter • into all his emotions ; we love, we detest, we resent, ac'cording as he inspires us ; and are prompted to resolve, or • to act, with vigour and warmth. Such high Eloquence is • always the offspring of passion. By passion, I mean that • state of the mind in which it is agitated and fired, by some
object it has in view. A man may convince, and even per. suade others to act, by mere reason and argument. But
without interesting ; and, especially, nothing is more frigid than a counterfeit ardour.
- The genuine talent for Eloquence is distinguished among very different styles. The Orator possessed of it is always simple without ever appearing vulgar. He shuns whatever is tumid or loose, or affected, or obscure ; and he knows, at times, how much to touch the soul, and to charm the ear. Master of his expressions, as he is of his thoughts, he rises, he is melted, he is inflamed, when his subjects require excellence,
that degree of eloquence which gains the admiration of • mankind, and properly denominates one as an Orator, is
never found without warmth, or passion. Passion, when in ' such a degree as to rouse and kindle the mind, .without *throwing it out of the possession of itself, is universally • found to exalt all the human powers. It renders the mind • infinitely more enlightened, more penetrating, more vigorous and masterly, than it is in its calm moments.
A man ' actuated by a strong passion, becomes much greater than "he is at other times. He is conscious of more strength and • force ; he utters greater sentiments, conceives higher de. * signs, and executes them with a boldness and felicity, of
which, on other occasions, he could not think himself ca. pable. But chiefly, with respect to persuasion, is the power of passion felt. Almost every man, in passion, is eloquent. Then he is at no loss for words and arguments. • He transmits to others, by a sort of contagious sympathy, the warm sentiments which he feels ; his looks and ges'tures are all persuasive ; and nature here shews herself in• finitely more powerful than all art. This is the foundation of that just and noted rule ; Si vis me flere, dolendum est primum ipsi tibi.' BLAIR's Lectures, vol. ii. p.7.
sensibility, or fervour. To avoidlin his discourses the tone of declamation, he meditates a long time before he writes ; for it is the effect of meditation to retrench the superfluity of words. The sacrifices, which he offers to taste, do not enervate his energy; they yield fresh pleasure to the auditor, who is capable of admiring a natural and true expression of genius, in a judicious and correct phraseology.*
This excellence, so rare, and so deserving of universal approbation, loses, however, all its estimation in the eyes of those, whom a counterfeit energy dazzles, and who deviate from the language
We know that Seneca found the eloquence of Cicero too simple, and, that his disciple Nero gilded the statues of Lysippus.t
** First follow Nature, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which is still the same ;
Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart,
Pope's Essay on Criticism, 1 69.
+ Plin. 34 c. 8.
TYLE loses its fulness and energy, when
words are environed with cumbrous epithets.
It hath been remarked, that, in the philosophical analysis of languages, the substantive is nothing, as it were, because abstract, and the adjective every thing, because it is sensible. But it is not so in Eloquence, where, frequently, the Epithet not being required by the accompanying word, oppresses the period, without strengthening the thought.*
• Feeble writers,' says Dr. Blair, employ a mul. titude of words to make themselves understood, as they think, more distinctly; and they only confound the reader. They are sensible of not having caught the precise expression, to convey what they would signify; they do not, in• deed, conceive their own meaning very precisely them.
selves; and, therefore, help it out, as they can, by this and 64 the other word, which may, as they suppose, supply the • defect, and bring you somewhat nearer to their idea : they
are always going about it, and about it, but never just hit the thing. The image, as they set it before you, is always • double ; and no double image is distinct. When an author tells me of his courage in the day of battle, the expression is precise, and I understand it fully. But if from the de* sire of multiplying words, he will needs praise his courage
Every useless Epithet ought to be proscribed. The Orator's elocution becomes loose and dragging, when each expression doth not conduce to throw light upon the meaning, or, at least, to charm with the harmony.*
Such is the case with some discourses, which seem to be destitute of ideas, although in other respects profoundly studied, inasmuch as one half of the words might safely have been retrenched.
and fortitude ; at the moment he joins these words together, my idea begins to waver. He means to express one quali'ty more strongly ; but he is, in truth, expressing twe. • Courage resists danger; fortitude supports pain. The occasion of exerting each of these qualities is different ; and being led to think of both together, when only one of them • should be in my view, my view is rendered unsteady, and
my conception of the object indistinct.' Blair's Lectures, vol. i. p. 190. 191.
* • Beware of imagining that we render Style strong or expressive, by a constant and multiplied use of Epithets. • This is a great error. Epithets have often great beauty and .force. But if we introduce them into every sentence, and
string many of them together to one object, in place of • strengthening, we clog and enfeeble style, and render the
image confused and indistinct, which we mean to illustrate." BLAIR's Lectures, vol. ii. p. 117.