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cially Demosthenes. When one reads the rhetorical works of Cicero and Dionysius, one cannot but perceive that the ancient languages, from their complicated and highly artificial structure, admitted of certain graces that cannot be aimed at, to any thing like the same degree, by any modern composition. One of these is harmony and rhythm. The effect which a polished and musical period (in the right place) had on the ears of an Attic, and even of a Roman assembly, is scarcely intelligible any where but in southern Europe. But there was immense difficulty in avoiding a vicious extreme in the use of this art. If it were not directed by the most exquisite taste and judgment, it became very offensive, and gave to a business speech the air of a mere panegyrical or scholastic declamation. Not only so, but nothing was harder to avoid than the uttering of a complete verse, and nothing was reckoned more vicious. In this, as in every other respect, Demosthenes is pronounced by Dionysius a perfect model of judgment and excellence. With a compass, a fulness, a pomp and magnificence of periods that distance the efforts of Isocrates in the same style, he displays such an inexhaustible variety of cadence, his tone is so continually changing with the topic, there is every where such an appearance of case and simplicity, that while the ear is always charmed, the taste is never once offended. He takes care always of the great capital object of eloquence — the being, and seeming to be in earnest. For this reason it is, that he throws in occasionally those abrupt and startling sentences, so ignorantly censured by Blair. He thus avoids that concinnity which is too apparent and somewhat offensive in Cicero, who continually forgets his own maxim on this subject — that in all things sameness is the mother of satiety.*
That so great a master of the human heart as Demosthenes, that a statesman occupied with the gravest public affairs, that a political leader, excited even to fanaticism by the conflict of parties and the war of the popular assembly, should have time or even inclination to give a thought to such minutia of style, may seem, at first, strange. But it is not so. In the first place, this perfection was become nature with him by the time he made his first appearance on the Bema. That lamp had not been burning in vain, in deep solitude,
* On this whole subject see Dionys. Hal. 1, 5.1, Ampoo ev. dotvornt. $ 33, et sqq. and Cic. orat. cc. 44-70.
from his early youth upwards. But, independently of that, it is a mistake to suppose that they whose writings and speeches have had the greatest sway over the minds of men, have been ever careless about the form and finish of their works. The very reverse is the fact.
Franklin, Paine, Cobbett, Paul Louis Courier, Beranger, Swift - were all not only good, but exquisite, writers; minutely versed in all the secrets of the art of composition. And there is yet another instance, still more remarkable, as presenting more than one coincidence with Demosthenes. We mean J.J. Rousseauthe master, the Socrates of the French Convention, whose frantic declamations were mere paraphrases or perversions of his political speculations. Never, perhaps, has a writer exercised a more terrible influence; yet look at his matchless style, and see what he says, in his Confessions, of his extreme slowness and labor in composition. Those pages which seem to have been filled up as with a flood of spontaneous, irrepressible passion, in “ those burning ecstasies” of his, were the tardy product of years of deep and mature meditation ; those musical periods, that natural, various, and abundant language of sensibility excited even to madness ; they were not dropped there in a fit of Sibylline rage and inspiration, but weighed, and trimmed, and recast, and polished over with a most mechanical precision and pains-taking, hundreds of times, before they were sent forth to wring and agitate the hearts of men. Shall we wonder at the elaborateness of Demosthenes, in the midst of by far the most cultivated people (we mean, of course, in reference to art) the world has ever seen? No better proof is needed of their taste, than the pains he took to satisfy it ; his master-pieces were such because they required them to be so ; and, both by his efforts to please them and his success in doing so by works matchless in every perfection, he is the pride and glory, as he was the idol, of the democracy of Athens.
One thing more, and we have done. These speeches, however elaborately composed, were still speeches. Every thing is done to give them an air of business, and the appearance of being the spontaneous effusions of the moment. No extemporaneous harangues were ever more free and natural. They were made to be delivered — some of them before tribunals composed of many hundred judges, others before the ecclesia itself, all of them in vast assemblages of people. Under such circumstances, in animated conflicts with able and eloquent adversaries, a graceful, impressive manner, a clear, audible, passionate voice, and all the other attractions of delivery, were highly necessary. His own repeated failures, on account of some defect from personal disadvantages in this way, led him to utter the sentence so often repeated since, that to an orator the one thing needful is good“acting."* This comprehends the management of voice, air, countenance, gesture, movements upon the Bema, and the attainment of the perfect self-possession, sure tact and nice sense of propriety necessary to it. The art of delivery was rendered peculiarly important at Athens, by the extreme impatience and intractableness of the audiences. We see evidence of this in all the remains of the orators. Whole pages of the very prepossessing opening o: Æschines, on the Embassy, are deprecatory of prejudice and unwillingness to hear argument. Many other examples mighı easily be cited. In this, as in every other excellence of his art, Demosthenes was without a rival; and his perfection here, too, must be described by the same epithets — he was natural and in earnest. His most formidable rival acknowledged this by describing him, as he does, as a magician oi juggler in oratory, and as one whose passions are so much under his control that, when occasion demands it, he can cry more easily than others laugh.t On this subject, Dionysius at Halicarnassus, in the essay already cited, after describing the effects of these orations upon him, adds, “If we, at such a vast distance of time, and no longer feeling any personal interest in the subjects, are so agitated, and controlled, ant carrried about in every direction by his eloquence, how mus the Athenians and other Greeks have been led by the mar then when they were in the midst of the real struggle se vitally touching themselves, and he was delivering his owr language with the dignity that belonged to him, and the cirage of an elevated spirit, adorning and enforcing every thing with a suitable delivery, (of which, as all confess, and as is indeed evident from the very tone of his speeches,t) he was the greatest master.
* See cont. Timocrat. $31. Cont, Mid. $ 22, and F. A. Wolfe, ad Leptin. $ 18. 'YROKpiais — not "action," as it has been improperly translated. The best essay, beyond comparison, we have ever met with, upon delivery, is in the author ad Herenn. I. iii. cc. 11. 15; the great object all is to seem in earnest - ut res ex animo agi videatur. t Æsch. de Fals. Legat. $ 20 and 27, calls him yons, cont. Ctesiph. $ 71. 4 π. τ.λ. Δημοσθεν, δεινοτητ. $ 22,
Such was Demosthenes, the Man, the Statesman, and the Orator. If what we have written from impressions made upon us by a long and rather intimate conversation with the great original, should be found, as we flatter ourselves it will, to place some things in his history and character in a new or more striking light, to the general reader, we shall be most amply rewarded for the pains we have been put to in writing this article. In conclusion, we give it in as our experience, that the trouble (certainly not inconsiderable) of acquiring a competent knowledge of Greek for that purpose, is far more than compensated by the single privilege of reading Demosthenes.
The remarks we proposed making on the Epimetrum of M. Westermann, and Lord Brougham's admiration for the spurious speeches, are, for wan: of space, necessarily omitted here.
Art. II.- Report of George Pitt, Special Agent of the Post
Office Department, February 3,1841. Ordered to be printed by the Senate of the Unitei States, Twenty-sixth Congress, Second Session.
The post, in common with oher great agents of civilization, has attracted much attentio, within the last half century. The main object of this vast insttution - peculiar to our own race— if we consider it in its geat perfection, as now seen among several modern nations, s the transmission of letters or facilitating the communication between persons who are distant from one another. This communication is the more perfect, the more rapid, safe, chap, and general it is made. Despatch, safety, cheapness, and the most general possible ramifications of the post establshment, have, therefore, received the greatest attention. Some nations are far more favorably situated, to attain a higł degree of perfection with regard to all these points, than others. Great Britain, for instance, with a comparatively small, yet thickly-settled territory, in which the number of letters to be transmitted is very great in proportion to the extent of mail route to be travelled over, can effect cheapness, safety, and an extensive ramification, far more easily than Russia or the United States,
with their vast and thinly-peopled territories. The peculiar form of government, with its various powers and police regulations, and a variety of other circumstances, may, likewise, greatly aid or impede a rapid development of this important institution. Nations less favorably situated in regard to these peculiar points, or which, upon the whole, attain advantages far greater, by the absence of ore or the other agent, which, nevertheless, may have been of essential service in carrying the post establishment to a high degree of perfection with other nations, do well, therefore, to follow in this, as in all other cases, the wise maxim, “ Try all things, and hold fast to that which is good,” so as to reap the fruits which civilization may have borne in other regions, without necessarily incurring the same risks or sacrifices. Civilization is a great and common cause, which requires to be ever watchful, never disdainful — to observe and learn with zeal and attention, and to adapt and modify with caution and wisdom. Mr. Kendall, therefore, acted wisely when post-master general, in sending Mr. Plitt to Europe, as we learn from the report whose title we have placed at the head of this article, " for the purpose of collecting and reporting useful information in relation to the mail arrangements, which long experience, as well as modern improvements, have introduced into the post-office establishments of the principal nations on that continent.” Mr. Plitt, who had practically prepared himself for this mission by a service of seven years in our post department, left New York in the month of June, 1839, and returned in August, 1840, after having "visited the postoffice departments of England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Saxony, Prussia, Austria, Bavaria, Wirtemberg, Baden, and the free Hanseatic cities of Frankfort, Hamburg, Bremen, and Lübeck.”
Mr. Plitt, as was to be expected, was every where liberally and kindly furnished with all possible information, and enabled to make, in the month of November, 1840, his valuable report, containing the chief regulations and organization of the most important post establishments, with many interesting statistics relating to the communication by letters of civilized man.
It concludes with some remarks of Mr. Plitt's referring to the abolition of certain abuses, and with some propositions of improvements in our post establishment, which, brief, as they are, [they occupy but five pages,] seem to us fully to deserve the attention of our legislators,