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Mr. CHARLES Fox, who is in the present day, considered as the most eloquent man of Great Britain, pronounced in parliament, the eulogium of the late General Montgomery: one of the court party interrupted him in these words ; • How dare you praise a rebel before the repre
sentatives of the nation - I will not refrain,' Mr. Fox immediately replied, ' from repelling
the outrage done to the memory of a great man. • You all know the meaning of the word rebel in
the mouth of my adversaries. If you have any • doubts of the true sense of this expression, I
would entreat you to recollect, that it is to these * pretended rebellions we owe our present constitution, and the privilege of being assembled at Westminster to deliberate upon the interests • of our country*.'
* The late celebrated Irish parlimentary Orator, Mr. Flood, is said to have rendered himself, at times, distinguished for such sort of oratorical strokes, as those which the Abbé Maury here ascribes to Bollingbroke and Mr. Fox; and also for ingenious and sentimental expressions.
As a specimen of the latter sort, it is recorded, that, at the commencement of the American war, having indulged himself in one of those prophecies, which experience has since proved to be so erroneous, relative to the ruin of this country, by the loss of America, Mr Flood said, “Destruc* tion shall come upon the British empire, like the coldness ' of death ; it shall creep upon it from the extreme parts :' and in speaking of the conduct of Lord Chatham, upon the stamp act, and alluding to a passage in Thucydides, he introduced the following beautiful episode : Iustrious man! to
These are specimens, which would be no discredit to the writings of Demosthenes. But a sublime idea does not constitute a discourse ; a beautiful detached passage does not compose the art of Eloquence.
Even until the present period, the value of English Orators is restrained within narrow bounds. Famous Islanders! It is not genius, it is the "genius of Oratory, that you want, may we say
. whose tomb posterity shall come and say, as Pericles did,
over the bodies of his diseased fellow-soldiers, You are • like to the Divinities above us--you are no longer with us, 'you are known only by the benefits, which you have con• ferred.' Such an enlivening streke deserves to be rescued from oblivion.
In Boswell's Life of the celebrated Dr. JOHNSON, there is a remark inserted, in relation to the written Life of Young, which may be quoted as one of those strokes of energetic and prompt Eloquence which M. Maury acknowledges the English possess.
'The life of Dr. Young, (in Johnson's Lives of the Poets,) was written,' says Mr. Boswell, by Mr. Croft,
and displays a pretty successful imitation of Johnson's style. 'A certain very eminent literary character opposed this idea ' vehemently; exclaiming, “No, no, it is not a good imita'tion of Johnson ; it has all his pomp, without his force ; • it has all the nodosities of the oak without its strength.' * This was an image so happy that one might have thought • he would have been satisfied with it ; but he was not : and
setting his mind again to work, he added, with great feli'city, · It has all the contortions of the Sybil, without the * inspiration. BoswELL's Life of Johnsun, vol. č. p. 361, 4to.
to you, as Cicero did formerly to some of his cotemporaries*
The human mind owes an unceasing debt of gratitude for your sublime discoveries on light, on gravitation, on electricity, on the aberration of the stars ; but let not your pride be wounded, if we contest the pre-eminence with your Orators. . Eloquence, the usual companion of liberty, is a stranger in your country. Do not affect a false and barbarous contempt of gifts, which nature hath denied you. Turn your attention to the models of antiquity, and to the examples of Greece and Rome. Add to the glory of the good actions, which are so common in your country, the merit perhaps, no less honourable, of knowing how to celebrate them.
I mean to set bounds to myself in this discussion. I shall not speak of the discourses of Boyle, which are entirely argumentative disser
* Illis non ingenium, sed Oratorium ingenium deficit. Brutus 110.
+ Sermons preached by different able divines at the lecture founded by the hon. Boyle.
Concerning these, Mr. Knox, observes, that They are among the best argued in our language. They have • been the laboured productions of the most ingenious men. • But the whole collection never did so much as a single s practical discourse of Tillotson.' Knox's Essays, No. 168.
tations. I shall not detain myself with the sermons of CLARKE ;* they are written with such metaphysical abstraction, that it is difficult to comprehend in the retirement of the closet the discourses of this well known rector of St. James's.
* • The sagacious CLARKE pretended not to wit. He af"fected not the ambitious ornaments of rhetoric. He rarely 'reaches the sublime, or aims at the pathetic; but in a clear, "manly, flowing style, he delivers the most important doc'trines, confirmed on every occasion by well applied pas. 'sages from scripture. If he was not a shining Orator, ac'cording to the ideas of rhetoricians, he was a very agreeable as well as useful preacher. He was not perfectly
orthodox in his opinions ; a circumstance which has lowered • his character among many. Certain it is, that he would have done more good, had he confined his labours to prac. tical divinity. Ibid.
The following is the character of this divine, which was given in the Gentleman's Magazine : “SAMUEL CLARKE,
D.D. Rector of St. James's, Westminster: in each several part of useful knowledge and critical learning, perhaps without a superior : in all united, certainly without an equal : in his works, the best defender of religion ; in his practice, the greatest ornament to it: in his conversation communicative, and in an uncommon manner instructive ; ‘in his preaching and writing, strong, clear, and calm; in his life high in the esteem of the wise, the good, and the great: in his death, lamented by every friend to learning, truth, and virtue.'
Dr. Clarke's principal sermons were those preached at Boyles lecture on · The Being and Attributes of God,' and « The Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion ;' besides which, there are published many other sermons of his preached on particular occasions. Dr. Clarke was born 1673, died 1729.
HE Eloquence of TILLOTSON, Archbishop
of Canterbury, is highly esteemed. I have read his sermons with the strictest impartiality, and these are my sentiments of the works of this Prelate, who is universally regarded as the first Orator of England.
Tillotson is an excellent writer. His principal merit consists in the style. He must, therefore be much injured by a translation, in which the vernacular expression is lost, and especially by such a translator as Barbeyrac, who was always deficient in sublimity, in embellishment, in energy, and in elegance. But while we acknow
Dr. BLAIR's character of this Divine is as follows: 6
Dr. * CLARKE every where abounds in good sense, and the most • clear and accurate reasoning ; his applications of scripture are pertinent ; his style is always perspicuous, and often
elegant; he instructs, and he convinces; in what then is • he deficient ? In nothing, except in the power of interest
ing and seizing the heart. He shows you what you ought s to do; but excites not the desire of doing it; he treats . man as if he were a being of pure intellect, without ima'gination or passions.'-BLAIR's Lectures, vol. ii. p. 223.