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self one of the greatest orators of that age; knew all the arts of address, and avenues to the passions; and consequently was better prepared to guard against them.
But neither his skill, nor resolution of mind, was of sufficient force against the power of oratory; but the conqueror of the world became a conquest to the charms of Cicero's eloquence; so that, contrary to his intention, he pardoned Ligarius. Now that oration is still extant, and appears exceedingly well calculated to touch the soft and tender passions and springs of the soul; but we believe it can scarcely be discernible to any, in reading it, hoiv it should have had so surprising an effect; which must therefore have been chiefly owing to the wonderful address of the speaker.
The more natural the pronunciation is, the more moving it will be; since the perfection of art consists in its nearest resemblance to nature. And therefore it is not without good reason, that the ancients make it one qualification of an orator, that he be a good man; because a person of this character will make the cause he espouses his own; and the more sensibly he is touched with it himself, the more natural will be his action; and, of course, the more easily will he affect others. Cicero says, “ It is certain that truth (by which he means nature) in every thing excels imitation; but if that were sufficient of itself in action, we should have no occasion for art.”
In his opinion therefore (and who was ever a better judge?) art, in this case, as well as in many others, if well managed, will assist and improve nature. But this is not all; for sometimes we find the force of it so great and powerful, that, where it is wholly counterfeit, it will for the time work the same effect as if it were founded in truth. This is well known to those who have been conversant with the representations of the theatre: In tragedies, though we are sensible that every thing we see and hear is counterfeit, yet such is the power of action, that we are oftentimes affected by it in the same manner as if it were all reality.
Anger and resentment at the appearance of cruelty, concern and solicitude for distressed virtue, rise in our breasts; and tears are extorted from us for oppressed innocence: though at the same time, perhaps, we are ready to laugh at ourselves for being thus decoyed. If art then has so great an influence upon us, when supported by fancy and imagination only, how powerful must be the effect of a just and lively representation of what we know to be true.
How agreeable it is, both to nature and reason, that a warmth of expression and vehemency of motion should rise in proportion to the importance of the subject and concern of the speaker, will further appear by looking back a little into the more early and simple ages of the world. For the higher we go, the more we shall find of both. The Romans had a very great talent this
way, and the Greeks a greater. The eastern nations excelled in it, and particularly the Hebrews.
Nothing can equal the strength and vivacity of the figures they employed in their discourse, and the very actions they used to express their sentiments, such as putting ashes on their heads, and tearing their garments, and covering themselves with sackcloth under any deep distress and sorrow of mind. And hence, no doubt, arose those surprising effects of eloquence which we never experience now.
And what is said here, with respect to the action of the eastern nations, was in a good measure customary among the Greeks and Romans; if not entirely of the same kind, yet perhaps as vehement and expressive.
They did not think language of itself sufficient to express the height of their passions, unless enforced by uncommon motions and gestures. Thus, when Achil. les had driven the Trojans into their city with the greatest precipitation and terror, and only Hector ven. tured to tarry without the gates to engage him, Homer represents both king Priam and his queen under the highest consternation for the danger of their son. And therefore, in order to prevail with him to come into the city and not fight with Achilles, they not only entreat him from the walls in the most tender and moving language imaginable; but they tear off their gray locks with their hands, and adjure him to comply with their request.
The poet knew very well that no words of them. selves could represent those agonies of mind he endeavoured to convey, unless heightened by the idea of such actions as were expressive of the deepest sorrow. In one of Cicero's orations, he does not stick to argue in this manner with his adversary. “ Would you talk thus (says he) if you were serious? Would you, who are wont to display your eloqu&nce so warmly in the danger of others, act so coldly in your own? Where is that concern, that ardour which used to extort pity even from children? Here is no emotion either of mind or body; neither the forehead struck, nor the thigh; nor so much as a stamp of the foot. Therefore, you have been so far from inflaming our minds, that you have scarcely kept us awake.”
The ancients had persons, whose proper business it was to teach them how to regulate and manage their voice; and others, who instructed them in the whole art of pronunciation, both as to their voice and gestures. These latter were generally taken from the theatre, being some eminent experienced actors. But tho' they made use of actors to instruct their youth in forming their speech and gestures, yet the action of an orator was very different from that of the theatre,
Cicero very plainly represents this distinction, in the words of Crassus; when speaking of orators, he says, "The motions of the body ought to be suited to the expressions, not in a theatrical way, mimicking the words by particular gesticulations, but in a manner expressive of the general sense; with a sedate and manly inflection of the sides; not taken from the stage and actors, but from the exercise of arms and the palestra.' And Quintilian says to the same purpose, “ Every gesture and motion of the comedians is not to be imi
tated, nor to the same degree.” They thought the action of the theatre too light and extravagant for the imitation of an orator; and therefore, though they employed actors to inform young persons in the first rudiments, yet they were afterwards sent to sehools, designed on purpose to teach them a decent and graceful management of their bodies.
Being thus far prepared, they were afterwards sent to the schools of the rhetoricians. And here, as their business was to cultivate their style, and gain the whole art of eloquence, so particularly to acquire a just and accurate pronunciation by those exercises, in which for that end they were constantly employed. Nor, after all this pains and industry, did they yet think themselves sufficiently qualified to take upon them the character of orators. But it was their constant custom to get together some of their friends and acquaintance, who were proper judges of such performances, and declaim before them in private.
The business of these persons was to make observations both on their language and pronunciation. And they were allowed the greatest freedom to take notice of any thing thought to be amiss, either as to inaccuracy of method, impropriety of style, or indecency of their voice or actions. This gave them an opportunity to correct any such defects at first, before they became habitual. What effects might not justly be expected from such an institution? Persons trained up in this manner,
with all those advantages, joined to a good natural genius, could not fail of making very complete orators. Though even after they came to appear in public they did not lay aside the custom of declaiming.
The influence of sounds, either to raise or allay our passions, is evident from music. And certainly the harmony of a five discourse, well and gracefully pronounced, is as capable of moving us, if not in a way so violent and ecstatic, yet not less powerful, and more agreeable to our rational faculties. As persons are dif. ferently affected when they speak, so they naturally
alter the tone of their voice, though they do not attend to it. It rises, sinks, and has various inflections given it, according to the present state and disposition of the mind. When the mind is calm and sedate, the voice is modvrate and even; when the former is dejected with sorrow, the latter is languid; and when that is inflamed by passion, this is elevated.
It is the orator's business, therefore, to follow nature, and to endeavour that the tone of his voice appear natural and unaffected. And for this end, he must take care to suit it to the nature of the subject; but still so as to be always grave and decent. Some persons continue a discourse in such a low and drawling manner, that they can scarcely be heard by their audience. Others again hurry on in so loud and boisterous a manner, as if they imagined their hearers were deaf. But all the music and harmony of voice lie between these extremes. Perhaps nothing is of more importance to a speaker, than a proper attention to accent, emphasis, and cadence. Every word in our language, of inore than one syllable, has, at least, one accented syllable. This syllable ought to be rightly known, and the word should be pronounced by the speaker in the same manner as he would pronounce it in ordinary conversation. By emphasis, we distinguish those words in a sentence which we esteem the most in.portant, by laying a greater stress of voice upon them than we do upon the others. And it is surprising to observe how the sense of a phrase may be altered by varying the emphasis. The following example will serve as an illustration.
This short question, “Will you ride to town today?” may be understood in four different ways, and, consequently, may receive four different answers, according to the placing of the emphasis.
If it be pronounced thus: Will you ride to town to-day? ve answer may properly be; No; I shall send my son.. If thus; Will you ride to town to-day? Answer, No; I intend to walk. Will you ride to