페이지 이미지

advantages the person laboured under in exerting it. But the chief topics of praise are taken from the vir tues and qualifications of the mind. And here the orator may consider the disposition, education, learning, and several virtues, which shone through the whole course of the person's life: in doing which, the preference should always be given to virtue above knowledge, or any other accomplishment. And in actions, those are most considerable, and will be heard with greatest approbation, which a person either did alone, or first, or wherein he had fewest associates; as likewise those which exceeded expectation, or were done for the advantage of others, rather than his own. And further, as the last scene of a man's life generally commands the greatest regard, if any thing remarkable at that time was either said or done, it ought particularly to be mentioned. Nor should the manner of his death or cause of it, if accompanied with any commendable circumstances, be omitted; as if he died in the service of his country, or in the pursuit of any other laudable design.

The third and last period relates to what followed after the death of the person. And here the public loss and public honours conferred upon the deceased are proper to be mentioned. Sepulchres, statues, and other monuments to perpetuate the memory of the dead at the expense of the public, were in common use both among the Greeks and Romans. But in the earliest times, as these honours were more rare, so they were less costly for as in one age it was thought a sufficient reward for him who died in the defence of his country to have his name cut in a marble inscription with the cause of his death, so in others it was

very common to see the statues of gladiators and persons of the meanest rank erected in public places. And therefore a judgment is to be formed of these things from the time, custom, and circumstances of different nations: since the frequency of them renders them less honourable, and takes off from their evidence as the rewards of virtue. But, as Quintilian says: Children are an honour to their parents, cities to their founders, laws to those who compiled them, arts to their inventors, and useful customs to the authors of them.

And this may suffice for the method of praising persons when we propose to follow the order of time, as Isocrates has done in his funeral oration upon Evagoras, king of Salamis, and Pliny in his panegyric upon the emperor Trajan. But as this method is very plain and obvious, so it requires the more agreeable dress to render it delightful; lest otherwise it seem rather like a history than an oration. For which reason we find that epic poets, as Homer, Virgil, and others, begin in the middle of their story, and afterwards take a proper occasion to introduce what preceded, to diversify the subject, and give the greater pleasure and entertainment to their readers.

The other method above hinted was to reduce the discourse to certain general heads, without regarding the order of time. As if any one in praising the elder Cato should propose to do it by showing that he was a most prudent senator, an excellent orator, and most valiant general; all which commendations are given him by Pliny. In like manner the character of a good general may be comprised under four heads,-skill in military affairs, courage, authority, and success; for all which Cicero commends Pompey. And agreeably

to this method Suetonius has written the lives of the first twelve Cæsars.

But in praising persons, care should always be taken to say nothing that may seem fictitious or out of character, which may call the orator's judgment or integrity in question. It was not without cause therefore, that Lysippus the statuary, as Plutarch tells us, blamed Apelles for painting Alexander the Great with thunder in his hand; which could never suit his character as a man, however he might boast of his divine descent; for which reason Lysippus himself made an image of him holding a spear, as the sign of a warrior. Light and trivial things in commendations are likewise to be avoided, and nothing mentioned but what may carry in it the idea of something truly valuable, and which the hearers may be supposed to wish for, and is proper to excite their emulation. These are the principal heads of praise with relation to men. In dispraise, as was hinted before, the heads contrary to these are requisite ; which being sufficiently clear from what has been said, need not particularly be insisted on.

I proceed, therefore, to the other part of the division, which respects things as distinguished from persons. By which we are to understand all beings inferior to man, whether animate or inanimate; as likewise the habits and dispositions of men either good or bad, when considered separately and apart from their subjects, as arts and sciences, virtues and vices, with whatever else may be a proper subject for praise or dispraise. Some writers indeed have, for their own amusement and the diversion of others, displayed their eloquence in a jocose manner upon subjects of this kind,

So Lucian has written in praise of a fly, and Synesius, an elegant encomium upon baldness. Others, on the contrary, have done the like in a satirical way. Such is Seneca's Apotheosis or consecration of the emperor Claudius; and the Mysopogon or Beardhater, written by Julian the emperor. Not to mention several modern authors, who have imitated them in such ludicrous compositions. But as to these things, and all of the like nature, the observation of Antony in Cicero seems very just: That it is not necessary to reduce every subject we discourse upon to rules of art. For many are so trival as not to deserve it; and others so plain and evident of themselves as not to require it. But since it frequently comes in the way both of orators and historians to describe countries, cities, and facts, I shall briefly mention the principal heads of invention proper to illustrate each of these.

Countries then may be celebrated from the pleasantness of their situation, the clemency and wholesomeness of the air and goodness of the soil, to which last may be referred the springs, rivers, woods, plains, mountains, and minerals. And to all these may be added their extent, cities, the number and antiquity of the inhabitants, their policy, laws, customs, wealth, character for cultivating the arts both of peace and war, their princes, and other eminent men they have produced. Thus Pacatus has given us a very elegant description of Spain, in his panegyric upon the emperor Theodosius, who was born there.

Cities are praised from much the same topics as countries. And here, whatever contributes either to their defence or ornament ought particularly to be mentioned; as the strength of the walls and fortifi

cations, the beauty and splendour of their buildings, whether sacred or civil, public or private. We have in Herodotus a very fine description of Babylon, which was once the strongest, largest, and most regular city in the world. And Cicero has accurately described the city Syracuse, in the island Sicily, in one of his orations against Verres.

But facts come much oftener under the cognizance of an orator and these receive their commendation from their honour, justice, or advantage. But in describing them, all the circumstances should be related in their proper order, and that in the most lively and affecting manner, suited to their different nature. Livy has represented the demolition of Alba by the Roman army which was sent thither to destroy it, through the whole course of that melancholy scene, in a style so moving and pathetic, that one can hardly forbear condoling with the inhabitants upon reading his account.

But in discourses of this kind, whether of praise or dispraise, the orator should (as he ought indeed upon all occasions) well consider where, and to whom, he speaks for wise men often think very differently both of persons and things from the common people. And we find that learned and judicious men are frequently divided in their sentiments from the several ways of thinking to which they have been accustomed. Besides, different opinions prevail and gain the ascendant at different times. While the Romans continued a free nation, love of their country, liberty, and a public spirit, were principles in the highest esteem among them. And therefore when Cato killed himself that he might not fall into the hands of Cæsar, and survive the liberty of his country, it was thought

« 이전계속 »