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In the following selections the pieces are ranked under apposite classes, in a consistency with the ancient rhetorical distribution of public orations, and the different kinds of public speaking in use among the moderns. The compilation, in the whole, comprehends a large diversity of productions, ancient and modern, appertaining to the different classes of public orations, called the DEMONSTRATIVE, the DELIBERATIVE, and the JUDICIAL, and to the principal kinds of oratory which respectively obtain in the PULPIT, and of the THEATRE.
Of the ancient rhetorical Distribution of the
Kinds or Subjects of Oratory.
The various kinds or subjects of oratory are principally distributed, by the ancients, into three classes ; the DEMONSTRATIve, the DELIBERATIVE, and the JUDICIAL.
The first or demonstrative, comprehends all those orations or discourses which relate to the applause, or censure, of persons or things. This opens an extensive field, and contains within itself whatever in nature or art, is worthy, on account of its desirable qualities, its excellencies, or defects, to be made the subject of discourse. By this, applause is given to virtue, and censure to vice: good examples are recommended for the imitation of others, and bad exposed for their admonition. All kinds of panegyric and invective are among its proper themes. Thus the chief design of this kind of oratory is to inspire men with the most perfect sentiments of honour and virtue, to infuse into them an aversion from every thing base and vicious, and to communicate instruction, by the most powerful means of apposite examples. Though, as is obvious from the above, these are not absolutely confined to personal instances.
To the second, or deliberative kind, belongs whatever can become the subject of public debate, counsel, or advice. Of this kind are all orations made in the senate, and at popular assemblies, which respect the public good, the welfare, the property, the liberties, and the lives of men ; these comprehend
whatever is discussed, advised to, or dissuaded from, on the ground of any valuable interest : such is the end proposed, as far as is consistent with honour and justice, in this kind of orations.
The last class, which is called the judicial or forensic, comprehends all subjects of distributive justice. By this, property is protected, innocence is defended, justice is maintained, and crimes are exposed. All subjects canvassed in courts of judicature; all orations delivered at the bar or on the bench, are of this kind. It's end to vindicate justice and equity, in opposition to fraud and violence, is obviously of very high importance and utility.
The author of the above division, it is said, was Aristotle. It's propriety is evident, as there is probably no kind or subject of oratory, but what may ho referred to one or other of the above classes,