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proper appellations, the different attempts, whether modes of arguing or forms of speech, that have been employed for the purposes of explaining, convincing, pleasing, moving, and persuading. Here we have the beginnings of the critical science. The third step is to compare, with diligence, the various effects, favourable or unfavourable, of those attempts, carefully taking into consideration every attendant circumstance by which the success appears to have been influenced, and by which one may be enabled to discover to what particular purpose each attempt is adapted, and in what circumstances only to be used. The fourth and last is to canvass those principles in our nature to which the various attempts are adapted, and by which, in any instance, their success, or want of success, may be accounted for. By the first step the critic is supplied with materials. By the second, the materials are distributed and classed, the forms of argument, the tropes and figures of speech, with their divisions and subdivisions, are explained. By the third, the rules of composition are discovered, or the method of combining and disposing the several materials, so as that they may be perfectly adapted to the end in view. By the fourth, we arrive at that knowledge of human nature which, besides its other advantages, adds both weight and evidence to all precedent discoveries and rules.
The second of the steps above mentioned, which, by-theway, is the first of the rhetorical art, for all that precedes is properly supplied by Nature, appeared to the author of Hudibras the utmost pitch that had even to his time been attained:
"For all a rhetorician's rules
Teach nothing but to name his tools."*
In this, however, the matter hath been exaggerated by the satirist. Considerable progress had been made by the ancient Greeks and Romans in devising the proper rules of composition, not only in the two sorts of poesy, epic and dramatic, but also in the three sorts of orations which were in most frequent use among them, the deliberative, the judiciary, and the demonstrative. And I must acknowledge that, as far as I have been able to discover, there has been little or no improvement in this respect made by the moderns. The observations and rules transmitted to us from these distinguished names in the learned world, Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian, have been for the most part only translated by later critics, or put into a modish dress and new arrangement. And as to the fourth and last step, it may be said to bring us into a new country, of which, though there have been some successful incursions occasionally made upon its frontiers, we are not yet in full possession.
* Part 1., canto 1.
The performance which, of all those I happen to be acquainted with, seems to have advanced farthest in this way is the Elements of Criticism. But the subject of the learned and ingenious author of that work is rather too multifarious to admit so narrow a scrutiny as would be necessary for a perfect knowledge of the several parts. Everything that is an object of taste, sculpture, painting, music, architecture, and gardening, as well as poetry and eloquence, come within his plan. On the other hand, though his subject be more multiform, it is, in respect of its connexion with the mind, less extensive than that here proposed. All those particular arts are examined only on that side wherein there is found a pretty considerable coincidence with one another; namely, as objects of taste, which, by exciting sentiments of grandeur, beauty, novelty, and the like, are calculated to delight the imagination. In this view, eloquence comes no farther under consideration than as a fine art, and adapted, like the other above mentioned, to please the fancy and to move the passions. But to treat it also as a useful art, and closely connected with the understanding and the will, would have led to a discussion foreign to his purpose.
I am aware that, from the deduction given above, it may be urged that the fact, as here represented, seems to subvert the principle formerly laid down, and that as practice in the art has given the first scope for criticism, the former cannot justly be considered as deriving light and direction from the latter; that, on the contrary, the latter ought to be regarded as merely affording a sort of intellectual entertainment to speculative men. It may be said that this science, however entertaining, as it must derive all its light and information from the actual examples in the art, can never, in return, be subservient to the art, from which alone it has received whatever it has to bestow. This objection, however specious, will not bear a near examination; for let it be observ. ed, that though in all the arts the first rough draughts or imperfect attempts that are made precede everything that can be termed criticism, they do not precede everything that can be termed knowledge, which every human creature that is not an idiot is every day, from his birth, acquiring by experience and observation. This knowledge must of necessity precede even those rudest and earliest essays; and if in the imperfect and indigested state in which knowledge must always be found in the mind that is rather self-taught than totally untaught, it deserves not to be dignified with the title of Science, neither does the first awkward attempt in practice merit to be honoured with the name of Art. As is the one, such is the other. It is enough for my purpose that something must be known, before anything in this way, with a view to an end, can be undertaken to be done,
At the same time it is acknowledged that, as man is much more an active than a contemplative being, and as generally there is some view to action, especially in uncultivated minds, in all their observations and inquiries, it cannot be doubted that, in composition, the first attempts would be in the art, and that afterward, from the comparison of different attempts with one another, and the consideration of the success with which they had been severally attended, would arise gradually the rules of criticism. Nor can it, on the other hand, be pleaded with any appearance of truth, that observations derived from the productions of an art, can be of no service for the improvement of that art, and, consequently, of no benefit to future artists. On the contrary, it is thus that every art, liberal or mechanical, elegant or useful, except those founded in pure mathematics, advances towards perfection. From observing similar, but different attempts and experiments, and from comparing their effects, general remarks are made, which serve as so many rules for directing future practice; and from comparing such general remarks together, others still more general are deduced. A few individual instances serve as a foundation to those observations, which, when once sufficiently established, extend their influence to instances innumerable. It is in this way that, on experiments comparatively few, all the physiological sciences have been reared; it is in this way that those comprehensive truths were first discovered which have had such an unlimited influence on the most important arts, and given man so vast a dominion over the elements, and even the most refractory powers of nature. It is evident, therefore, that the artist and the critic are reciprocally subservient, and the particular province of each is greatly improved by the assistance of the other.
But it is not necessary here to enter farther into this subject; what I shall have occasion afterward to advance on the acquisition of experience, and the manner of using it, will be a sufficient illustration.
PHILOSOPHY OF RHETORIC.
THE NATURE AND FOUNDATIONS OF ELOQUENCE.
Eloquence in the largest acceptation defined, its more general forms exhib. ited, with their different objects, ends, and characters.
IN speaking, there is always some end proposed, or some effect which the speaker intends to produce in the hearer. The word eloquence, in its greatest latitude, denotes “that art or talent by which the discourse is adapted to its end."*
All the ends of speaking are reducible to four; every speech being intended to enlighten the understanding, to please the imagination, to move the passions, or to influence the will.
Any one discourse admits only one of these ends as the principal. Nevertheless, in discoursing on a subject, many things may be introduced which are more immediately and apparently directed to some of the other ends of speaking, and not to that which is the chief intent of the whole. But then these other and immediate ends are in effect but means, and must be rendered conducive to that which is the primary intention. Accordingly, the propriety or the impropriety of the introduction of such secondary ends will always be inferred from their subserviency or want of subserviency to that end, which is, in respect of them, the ultimate. For example, a discourse addressed to the understanding, and calculated to illustrate or evince some point purely speculative, may borrow aid from the imagination, and admit metaphor and comparison, but not the bolder and more striking figures, as that called vision or fiction,† prosopopeia, and the
"Dicere secundum virtutem orationis. Scientia bene dicendi." Quintilian. The word eloquence, in common conversation, is seldom used in such a comprehensive sense. I have, however, made choice of this definition on a double account: 1st. It exactly corresponds to Tully's idea of a perfect orator: "Optimus est orator qui dicendo animos audientium et docet, et delectat, et permovet." 2dly. It is best adapted to the subject of these papers. See the note on page 26.
+ By vision or fiction is understood that rhetorical figure of which Quintilian says, 66 Quas pavracias Græci vocant, nos sanè visiones appellamus,
like, which are not so much intended to elucidate a subject as to excite admiration. Still less will it admit an address to the passions, which, as it never fails to disturb the operation of the intellectual faculty, must be regarded by every intelligent hearer as foreign at least, if not insidious. It is obvious that either of these, far from being subservient to the main design, would distract the attention from it.
There is, indeed, one kind of address to the understanding, and only one, which, it may not be improper to observe, disdains all assistance whatever from the fancy. The address I mean is mathematical demonstration. As this doth not, like moral reasoning, admit degrees of evidence, its perfection in point of eloquence, if so uncommon an application of the term may be allowed, consists in perspicuity. Perspicuity here results entirely from propriety and simplicity of diction, and from accuracy of method, where the mind is regularly, step by step, conducted forward in the same track, the attention no way diverted, nothing left to be supplied, no one unnecessary word or idea introduced.* On the contrary, an harangue framed for affecting the hearts or influencing the resolves of an assembly, needs greatly the assistance both of intellect and of imagination.
In general, it may be asserted that each preceding species, in the order above exhibited, is preparatory to the subsequent ; that each subsequent species is founded on the preceding; and that thus they ascend in a regular progression. Knowledge, the object of the intellect, furnisheth materials for the fancy; the fancy culls, compounds, and, by her mimic art, disposes these materials so as to affect the passions; the passions are the natural spurs to volition or action, and so need only to be rightly directed. This connexion and dependancy will better appear from the following observations.
When a speaker addresses himself to the understanding, proposes the instruction of his hearers, and that, either by explaining some doctrine unknown, or not distinctly comprehended by them, or by proving some position disbelieved or doubted by them. In other words, he proposes either to dispel ignorance or to vanquish error. In the one, his aim is their information; in the other, their conviction. Accordingly, the predominant quality of the former is persoicuity; of the
per quas imagines rerum absentium ita repræsentantur animo, ut eas cernere oculis ac præsentes habere videamur."
* Of this kind Euclid hath given us the most perfect models, which have not, I think, been sufficiently imitated by later mathematicians. In him you find the exactest arrangement inviolably observed, the properest and simplest, and, by consequence, the plainest expressions constantly used, nothing deficient, nothing superfluous; in brief, nothing which in more, or fewer, or other words, or words otherwise disposed, could have been better expressed.