Imatges de pàgina
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مهر ۹۰ روتاری اور ...


of the different kinds of public speaking, not included

in the ancient rhetorics.


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as a branch of oratory, is also called action, by some of the ancients. Though, if we at. tend to the proper signification of each of these words, we must admit, that the former respects the voice, and the latter, the gestures and motions of the body. But if we consider them as synonymous terms, in this extensive

may be said, that pronunciation or action con. sists in a suitable conformity of the voice, and the various attitudes and positions of the body, in public speaking, to the subject and design of the discourse.

The most capable judges among the ancients have represented this branch of oratory, as the principal concern in the province of an orator, and that froin attention tu which he is chiefly to expect success in the oratorical art. When Cicero, under the person of Crassus, has largely and elegantly discoursed of all the other parts of oratory, coming at last to speak of this, he says;

66 All the for mer have their effect according as they are pronounced, It is action alone that governs in public speaking; with. out which the best orator is of no value, and is often defeated by one, in other respects, much his inferior.”' And he lets us know, that Demosthenes was of the same opinion. Who, when he was askert, what was the prin.


cipal concern, in oratory, replied action; and being asked again, a second and a third time, what was next eminent, he still returned the same answer. Thus he seemed to in. timate, that he thought the whole art did in some manner consist in this branch of it. And, indeed, if he had not judged it highly necessary for an orator, he would scarcely have taken so much pains himself, in correcting those natural defects, under which he laboured originally, in order to acquireit. For he had not only a weak voice, but also an impediment in his speech, so that he could not pronounce distinctly certain letters. The former of these de. fects he conquered, partly by speaking with all the force he could exert, on the sea-shore, when the waves roåred, and the sea was boisterous; and partly by pronouncing long periods as he walked up a hill. Both these methods contri. buted to the strengthening of his voice. And he found means to render his pronunciation more clear and articulate by the help of pebble-stones placed under his tongue. Nor was he less careful in endeavouring to acquire the habit of a just and graceful gesture: for this purpose he used to pronounce his orations alone before a large mir.

And as he had got an ill custom of drawing up his shoulders, when he spoke, to amend that, he used to place them under a sword, which hung over him with the point downwards. Such pains did the prince of Grecian orators bestow, to remove those difficulties which would have been sufficient to discourage an inferior and less aspiring genius. · The perfection at which he arrived in this pronunciation, under all these disadvantages, by his indefati. gable diligence and attention, is evident from the confes. sion of his great adversary and rival in oratory, Eschines. Eschines, when he could not bear the disgrace of being panquished by Demosthenes in the cause of Ctesiphon, retired to Rhodes. And being desired by the inhabitants of the place to recite to them his own oration upon that occasion, which he accordingly repeated; the next day they requested him to let them hear that of Demosthenes ; which being pronounced in a most graceful manner, to the admiration of all who were present,

66. How much more,” says he, 6 would you have wondered, if you had heard him speak it himself.” By which it plainly appears that he gave Demosthenes the preference, in that - respect. To these authorities we might add the judgment


that 56

of Quintilian, who affirms, that " it is not of so much moment what our compositions are, as how they are prog nounced; since it is the manner of the delivery by which the audience is moved." And hence he ventures to assert,

an indifferent discourse, assisted by a lively and graceful action, will have greater eslicacy than the finest harangue, which wants that advantage.”

The justness of this sentiment of the ancients, concen. ing the power and efficacy of oratorical pronunciation, might be proved from many instances; but one or two may here suffice. Hortensius, a cotemporary with Cicero, and while living next to him in repute as an orator, was highly applauded for his action. But his orations after his decease, as Quintilian aflirms, (for none of them now remain,) did not appear correspondent to his reputation; from which he justly concludes, that there must have been something pleasing in his speaking, by which he gained his character, that was lost in the reading his productions. But perhaps there is scarcely a more memorable instance of this than in Cicero himseif. After the death of Pom. pey, when Cæsar had taken the government of Rome into his own hands, many of his acquaintance interceded with him in behalf of their relations and friends, who had been of the opposite faction in the late wars. Among others Cicero solicited for his friend Ligarius; this Tubero una derstanding, who owed Ligarius a grudge, he opposed it, and undertook to represent him to Cæsar as unworthy of his clemency. Cæsar himself was prejudiced, against Ligarius; and therefore when the cause was to come !)efore him, he calmly said, “ We may venture. to hear Cicero display his eloquence, for I know the person for whom he pleads to be a bad man, and an enemy to me.” But Cicero, however, in the course of his oration, so worked upon the passions of Cæsar, that the einotions of his mind were very conspicuous, from the frequent alterations of his countenance. And when he came to touch upon the battle of Pharsalia, which had given Casar the empire of the world, he represented it in such a moving and lively manner, that Cæsar could no longer restrain himself, he,, was seized with such a fit of trembling, that he dropt the papers, which he held in his hand.

This was the more remarkable, because Cæsar was himself one of the great. est orators of that age; acquainted with all the arts of ad

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