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taphysics--in short, throughout the whole range of speculative philosophy. Before his time, all or inost of these things had attained to perfection. In eloquence, especially, there was room only for such pre-eminent and peerless excellence as his. By the might of his "Olympian" strain, Pericles had, for upwards of a generation together, wielded, at will, the fiercest of democracies. Herodotus and Thucydides and Xenophon had exhibited perfect models of historical, and Plato and Xenophon of philosophical composition. It seemed impossible that Attic elegance and purity should be carried to a higher pitch than they had been in the pleadings of Lysias, while the nameof Isocrates was identified with the elaborate beauties of the panegyrical oration. And, lastly, Isæus, now principally remembered as the master of Demosthenes, had shadowed out, with no unequal hand, the vigorous and sublime style of which his immortal pupil was destined to leave behind him a perfect model.* Cicero had to create all that Demosthenes inherited. No poem or oration bad, as yet, been composed at Rome that could pretend to the highest order of excellence. No history, written by a native, was worthy of the events it recorded. Literary attainments were an extraordinary and notable distinction in any Roman,t and “the most eloquent of the children of Romulus” might justly aspire to the praise bestowed by Tiberius upon Domitius Afer, that he was suo jure orator. It is no wonder that he felt some little vanity in so singular a distinction, and was now and then guilty of ostentation in displaying it.
2. It is partly to the same causes that the second advantage of Demosthenes inust be ascribed-an audience every way better fitted at once to task and to animate, to chasten and to restrain the genius of an orator. And this advantage was twofold; first, as the Athenian audience was more thoroughly democratic: secondly, as it was more refined.
We differ as to the latter particular from Hume, who, in his excellent Essay on Eloquence, takes it for granted that Cicero's au liences were more cultivated than the mobs of the Athenian Puyx and Agora ; and so, in some respects, they no doubt were, but not in those qualities which make men good judges of public speaking, or indeed of any other art. A promiscuous multitude of a myriad or two (perhaps threef) Athenian citizens—many of them tempted to the exercise of their sovereignty only by the miserable allowance of three oboli per
diem-may well be conceived to have contained some of those shabby, beggarly-looking fellows, so strongly painted by Aristophanes*. But the rogues were Greek, and Attic too, for all that, and the well known story of the old woman who detected something not vernacular in the language even of the elegant Theophrastus, whether it be true or not in point of fact, is altogether characteristic. This exquisite delicacy of perception, accompanied with the liveliest sensibility to beauty and excellence, was common to the whole people. It was a peculiar organization--a susceptibility so refined, that the slightest touch set it thrilling, like the fabled lute which the first beams of day awakened to melody and rapture. The only thing in modern times that affords any parallel is the love of the Italians for music, and their skill as connoisseurs in it. The Roman audience, as described by Michael Kelly and others, before which the greatest 'masters appear with fear and trembling, are, as to one art, what the Greeks were as to all. Select the politest pretenders to taste in music that are to be found in the saloons of Paris, and assemble them at Favart or the Salle Louvois, to hear Pasta and Pellegrini, and you will soon perceive the difference between a modish dilettante and the true, the only true critic, because the true lover of the art-ingenti perculsus amore, as Virgil beautifully describes him in three words. Much profound discourse you may hear, and most technical and learned cant, but you shall see no feelings struggling in vain for fit utterance-none of those heartfelt ejaculations, those signs, not expressions, of unspeakable rapture that are often witnessed in a crowd of Italian raggamuffins listening to a fine air. Such an audience, respectable and imposing in other respects, would want only one thing to make them good critics, the sense of music, but that one thing, we need not say, is every thing. The poor Italian, who, after suffering for some time under the intolerable din, of the orchestra at the Académie Royale, as the French opera is called, cried out in his agony, “I Francesi hànno le orecchie di corno,” said we suspect very much what an old Greek would have thought of the Romans in reference to public speaking.-Yet, we have shown by a striking example in a preceding page, that the criticism of the latter was sensitiveness itself, compared with any thing of the same kind in modern, at least American or English assemblies. Certain it is, however, that neither in the Senate House, nor in the Comitia, nor in the Forum, was a truly attic audience ever assembled. The most finished education was necessary to put a Roman of talents upon an equality,
* Ibid. One of his orators is represented as quite naked from excessive poverty.
(if it did that) with the vulgar at Athens. Cicero, himself, omits no opportunity of dwelling upon that exquisite perfection of style which their taste required. His own immense copiousness of expression is exhausted in furnishing epithets of admiration and praise of it. And whither did this great orator himself go to perfect his own education? To Asia—a country, which, in the most auspicious periods of Grecian history, had never known the true Attic eloquence. But Attic eloquence, even at Athens, perished with the democracy at Cheronæa, and Demetrius Phalereus, one of the first viceroys of Macedon, was also the first eximple of that memorable saying that a slave, though he excel in every thing else, can never be an orator.* The degeneracy of taste became more and more apparent every day, until about the age of Cicero, when, according to a celebrated critic, a visible improvement in it was brought about, and a new life infused into literature, by the influence of Rumet But where was this taste to be found, and by whom was it exemplified and taught ? By scholastic and cloistered rhetoricians--in pedantic disputations upon idle theses and vague abstractions. None of these masters of the art had ever mingled in the fierce contentions, the stormy passions, the animated warfare of the popular assembly, the only school in which eloquence can be effectually taught. What were the lectures of Molo and Menippus to the unsparing and even peevish severity of an Attic audience ? Compare the experience of Cicero with that of Demosthenes. When the former delivered his defence of Roscius of Ameria, the noted passage about the punishment of Parricides drew forth thunders of applause. Yet, he himself confesses, at a more mature age, that it was in bad taste, as it certainly is; but it revealed a power of oratory superior to any thing that had been known at Rome, and that was enough to secure for it the admiration of an undisciplined audience. The Greek orator, on the contrary, appeared before men who had been regularly disciplined in criticism by the best models, and who had no mercy at all upon a candidate for their favor. Accordingly, although Demosthenes had spoken with pre-eminent success in private causes,f had studied the art intensely for many years together, and discovered from the first, to good judges, the genius which enabled him, at length, to eclipse Pericles and every
* Quinctil. lib. 8. c. 1.
+ Diony. Halicarn. Proem. Iudic. de Orator | His speeches against Aphobus were delivered in bis teens. Those against Onetor, which were made soon after, have, on account of the extreme maturity of the style, &c. been ascribed to Isæus. VOL. II.-NO. 4.
other speaker, yet, his first attempts on the Bema, as is well known, failed utterly. He was laughed at, hissed, hooted off, not once, but repeatedly—and that too, for defects, many of which would pass unobserved-certainly in a man of his talent) with perfect impunity-in any modern assembly. For instance, the author of the Lives of the Ten Orators, sometimes ascribed to Plutarch, tells us, that after his first discomtiture, he devoted himself to study, with greater determination and perseverance than ever. Yet, on his re-appearance in public, the cavilling and critical Demus quarrelled with him again. One instance is mentioned by that writer. The orator undertook to pronounce AoxanTiós with the acute accent on the ń, which never failed to call forth a terrible explosion of popular indignation and disgust.* So rigorous was an Attic assembly-and such a painful attention even to the most minute excellencies of style, did they exact from the sublimest, and, ultimately, the most triumphant of their orators!
But this wonderful refinement belonged to the wildest democracy that ever existed—a tumultuary and excitable mob, wayward, fitful and refractory, alternately slave and tyrantnow a passive instrument of the demagogue, then “like a dev'lish engine back recoiling” upon the rash hand that aspired to diTect it.
It was a troubled ocean that knew no rest-moved by every sudden impulse, blown about by every wind of doctrine, agitated, in short, by all the elements of commotion, disorder and excess.
-Rumour next, and Chance
And Discord with a thousand various mouths. Well might an orator prepare for such a scene by declaiming upon the shore of the stormy deep! While his ambition was stirnulated to the highest pitch by the confident expectation that his eloquence, if it were of a high order, would be rewarded with complete success over so susceptible an audience, there were perils, on the other hand, always impending over him, that made his anxiety to prepare himself for the trial, still more intense and absorbing. The demagogue was in some degree responsible for events, and might be said to legislate with a halter about his neck. Every debate on an important measure was, for this reason, an affair of life and death to those engaged in it. A Turkish vizier is not more deeply in
πολλάκις εθυροβηθη After this, he put himself again to school to Eubulides, a Milesian Dialectician, and at length succeeded.
terested in the success of his policy and conduct, than were the Athenian orators. We may judge what were the comforts of such an existence—what "joy ambition found” amidst the most splendid triumphs of the Bema—from the experience of Demos-. thènes himself, who declared in the bitterness of his spirit, that had he his life to live over, and there were only two roads before him, the one leading to the public assembly, and the other to instant destruction, he would, without hesitation, pursue the latter. Independently, however, of this deep and perilous responsibility, the control of the audience over the speaker was perpetually discovered in matters of minor importance. At times, they would not hear him at all-at other times, they compelled him to omit a disagreeable topicmat other times again, they broke in upon his arrangement, and made him begiu where they pleased. In his oration against Ctesiphon, Æschynes exhorts them not to let Demosthenes have his own way in the argument, for that if they did, he would infallibly take advantage of the liberty to divert them from the subject, as was his custom, and hurry away their feelings with a torrent of irrelevant declamation. The great orator opens his reply with a protest against such an interference, so emphatic and solemn, as to shew he had great reason to dread it. This anxiety about being heard, appears in all his speeches in the course of which, he frequently begs them not to disturb him with their clamours until they have heard him out. The orators were particularly put to it for time-for their impatient auditors restricted them in that particular as much as possible. Stop the water," cries the speaker, when the scribe is about reading the testimony. “ If you have any reply to make to this argument,” they sometimes say to their adversaries, “come up and make it now, in my allowance of water.” brevity—a great beauty-of Lysias, is accounted for by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, by the necessity of conforming his speech to the scanty contents of the clepsydra* So too, one of the most remarkable things in the Philippics of Demosthenes, is their conciseness; three or four of them put together would not make up an average congressional harangue, de lana capriná.
Cicero had to address a far more patient audience. The character of the Romans was grave and saturnine-their manners decorous and reserved. The influence of established bienséances—of a powerful and haughty aristocracy-of a nice and complicated government of checks and balances, in which
* Jud. de Lys. c.5.