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the democratic element was, except on extraordinary occasions, comparatively kept down—all tended to the same result. We have seen that a senator might, if he pleased, speak all day, • and until the third Consulship of Pompey, no limit was set to the length of forensic pleadings.
Now, let any one consider the influence which the character of an audience has upon the speaker. Cicero accounts for the difference between the Attic and the Asiatic style by this single cause. * In this respect, therefore, Demosthenes enjoyed a prodigious advantage over his only rival. Hume, indeed, thinks otherwise. He represents the Greek orator as having created his own audience. But that is clearly a mistake. What he alleges as a proof of it, is altogether insufficient, viz. that Gorgias had many admirers in his day: for in the first place, we have positive evidence that the faults of that orator were ridiculed ;t and, secondly, his merits must have been very great, since Plato, a witness above all exception, was very much addicted to the study of his writings.I
3. The foregoing remarks have prepared us to consider the third circumstance which contributed to make the style of Demosthenes more perfect than that of Cicero, without supposing in him any superiority in genius. This was, that the occasions on which he spoke his greatest harangues, were more momentous and impressive. Mr. Dunlop, indeed, is of a contrary opinion. “Cicero," he thinks, “had a wider, and, perhaps, more beautiful field, in which to ex patiate and display his powers. The wide extent of the Roman empire, the striking vices and virtues of its citizens, the memorable events of its history, supplied an endless variety of great and interesting topics; whereas, many of the orations of Demosthenes are on subjects unworthy of his talents.” This remark is just, as applied to the forensic speeches of the Greek orator in private causes; with which, few persons besides Hellenists, are acquainted; but it certainly is not true of the Philippics and the other public harangues, and it is by these alone that we judge him. The Bar does not admit of the most sublime eloquence; and most of Cicero's master-pieces were delivered in the Forum. This is an important consideration. The highest order of eloquence can no more be displayed except on occasions calculated to shake and to agitate the human soul, than heroic courage, which emanates from the same source, and is nearer akin to it than is commonly
* Omnes qui probari volunt, voluntatem eorum qui audiunt intuentur, ad eamque et ad eorum arbitrium et nutum totos se fingunt et accommodant.--Brut. sub calc.
+ Longin. of the Sublime, c. 3. # Dion. Hal. Epist. ad Cn. Pom.
thought-and when those occasions do take place, they call forth an oratory such as the babbling rhetoricians, or clever debaters, commonly considered as eloquent men, cannot even conceive. It is when a universal consternation prevails—when even the brave are mute with astonishment, and “each in other's countenance reads signs of his own dismay," that he who stands forth unmoved, and points out the means of deliverance, or leads the way to a noble self-devotion to honour and duty, is eloquent even without the aid of laboured language. This is the true account of Patrick Henry's reputation. “Whatever others do, I'll fight," was, under the circumstances, as sublime as the qu'il mourut of the old Horace. A single sentence of this kind produces a transport of admiration : what must be the effect of a whole speech delivered in such a strain, and replete with all the other perfections of oratory? Let us take another example. Bossuet was a man of sublime genius, and the subjects of his Funeral Orations were such as Mr. Dunlop conceives to be best adapted to call forth the talents of an orator. Yet compare any thing he has done in that kind, with the famous passage in a discourse of Masillon, about the fewness of the elect-delivered, it may be, before a far less august assembly, and with none of the pomp and circumstance of this world to set off the occasion to advantage. How tame and cold, and, therefore, feeble, are the sonorous periods which celebrate inurned greatness, and moralize upon its emptiness and vanity, by the side of that holy fervour, that divine enthusiasm, that truly religious earnestness and sincerity, and what is the consequence of all these, that heart-searching and alarming power with which the herald of salvation rouses up his agitated audience, as with the trump of doom! And suppose Massillon to have delivered such a discourse, when the face of the earth had just been swept by a whirlwind, or its foundations shaken by an earthquake, or when the pestilence was walking abroad at noon-day, or men were perishing by famine,no matter how humble or obscure his audience with how much more real eloquence would he have spoken, with how much more effect would he have been heard, than if he were addressing all the kings of the earth on a subject that did not so deeply awaken their bosoms! Now, the occasions on which Cicero spoke, were generally more imposing than interesting—more fitted to strike the imaginations of men, than to agitate and arouse their feelings. He never rose to speak in the Senate or the Comitia, amidst such universal and such intense excitement as prevailed in the Athenian assembly, on an occasion eternized by the eloquence of Demosthenes. We allude to the passage in the
oration for the crown, so much commended by the ancient critics, beginning Eonépa Mèv yde hv, &c. The news that Philip, violating all his engagements, had suddenly pounced upon Elatea--the key of Phocis and Bæotia—and might be expected to appear before the walls of Athens in a few days, was brought thither in the evening. In a moment the whole city was in such a state of alarm that men seemed bereft of their senses. the morrow, by the break of day, the Senate of Five Hundred was convened, and at the same time, the people crowded into the Assembly, anxiously waiting for the result of its deliberations. At length the Senate makes its appearance—the Prytanes report the intelligence that had been brought the bearer of these dreadful tidings himself is produced, and made to recite them again. Then the crier calls aloud in the usual formula, “does any one wish to speak,” but none answered to the call. It is repeated over and over again--and still, though all the magistrates and orators are present, not one of them has the courage to come forward--not one of them seems “to hear the common voice of his country imploring his counsel and assistance." It was at such a juncture that Demosthenes ascended the Bema, and prevailed upon them to adopt those measures which led to the alliance with Thebes, and to the last great struggle for the liberties of Greece at Che
These are the occasions that create orators of the sublime and heroic stamp-and, acccordingly, the heart of man hath not conceived—the lips of a prophet never uttered more rapturous and godlike eloquence, than that of Demosthenes in the oration just mentioned, where he dwells upon this memorable scene. He recites a part of his speech and the decree which it persuaded the people to pass and which, if it was longer than the Iliad, as Æschynes declares it was, fell nothing short of it in sublimity-without any rhetorical pomp and embellishment, (for they would have been out of place and disgusting) but breathing the lofty soul, the sacred love of country, "the unconquerable will and courage never to submit or yield,” the generous shame that forbids the children of patriots and heroes to stain their glorious escutcheon with a recreant's baseness.* It is true this occasion was an extraordinary one even in the oratorical career of Demosthenes. But it was only the end and consummation, so to speak, of all the others. He had been all along anticipating and predicting such a crisis, and hence the
Theopompus (apud Platarch) paints in strong colours the effects produced on the Thebans by a similar oration of Demosthenes, delivered before them soon after, to persuade them to the alliance. His eloquence made them forget fear, and policy, and favour, ενθουσιώνπας υπο σε λόγο προς ΤΟ ΚΑΛΟΝ.
deep earnestness of his exhortations in the Philipnics and lynthians. The whole drama borrows the live of the great catastrophe, which lenris also a serious and solemn interest to the controversy about the crown, where the orator gives an account at the bar of his country, of all his labours and sacrifices for her sake.
Now Cicero, although he played a part on a great theatre, and in more important, striking and even tragic scenes, than most other speakers, was never placed in such a situation as has been just described-at least, he never spoke in such a one. Unquestionably the contest with Mark Antony bore the nearest analogy to it; and, accordingly, the second Philippic, as we before remarked, approaches, of all his orations, nearest to the Demosthenian model. It is truly agonistic--simple, nervous, direct, earnest, vehement. This example strikingly confirms our opinion, that had he been placed in the same situations with the Greek orator, he would, probably, have been freer from what we have mentioned as the occasional defects of his style. But that invective was written (for it was never spoken) in the sixty-third year of his age, and but a short time before his death. He had not been trained from his youth in such contests; on the contrary, the subjects on which he had been required to exercise his powers, were such as called for the display rather of a splendid and ornamental, than a severe and simple eloquence. The impeachment of Verres, for instance, which Mr. Dunlop thinks so admirable an occasion, involved a matter of daily occurrence in the administration of Roman affairs. Verres. was a sad fellow, to be sure, rather worse, it is probable, than most other governors of provinces—but almost every Prætor and Proconsul was, in some measure, guilty of the same sins. Indeed, they were inseparable from a system of conquest and military polity-and, accordingly, the most vehement passages, beyond comparison, in the whole collection, are those not in which he paints the ruin and depopulation of Sicily, the wrongs and the misery of its inhabitants, &c. for those were small matters, but-in which he dwells upon certain indecencies in the conduct of a Roman Prætor, and the violation of the Portian and Sempronian laws in the execution of an obscure Romin citizen !*
The orations against Cataline are also remarkable for force and vehemence; but they do not approach by any means so near to the ideal standard as the second Philippic. Every one who is well versed in the history of that period knows that the consul did more in that matter, by manage
* Besides, the five orations of the second action, were not spoken.
ment, than by eloquence. The first of those orations, for instance, seems to be mere railing, or rather scolding. The importunate question still presents itself to the reader, what does the orator mean to effect-why does he not act instead of speaking-why declaim so vehemently against a conspirator whom he is afraid to punish, “letting I dare not wait upon I would, like the poor cat in th' adage.” Cicero does nothing more than inform Cataline that his machinations bave been betrayed, and request him, very earnestly, to confer upon the city the favor of quitting it immediately, and joining Manlius and his desperadoes in Etruria. Astonished at the traitor's impudence, he, at first, breaks forth into a strain of lofty and eloquent indignation; but he ends by turning his astonishment against himself, and wondering how he could submit, so patiently, to such unheard of atrocities and outrages. The truth is, however, that from the moment the plot was discovered, all immediate danger from it was at an end; the only difficulty was how to proceed against so conspicuous and powerful a demagogue-and the object of the speaker, as he afterwards informs us, was, by dint of threats and contumely to drive the man to desperate counsels-to turn his privy conspiracy into an open rebellion, and thus to cut him off, with his adherents, in the field. As it happened, the invective had its effect-Cataline followed the orator's advice—but had he persisted in remaining at Rome, a speech of a very different-a far more Demosthenian kind had been necessary to persuade the Senate to treat him, as it afterwards, principally by the influence of Cato, treated his accomplices. In short, this first Catalinarian, with all its force and eloquence (which are very great) seems to us to be liable to the criticism, that it has the air of mere declamation, without drift or purpose--revealing in the magistrate, a weakness which durst not execute what the reasoning of the orator proved, if it proved any thing, to be absolutely necessary. It is obvious that so far as this remark is just, that celebrated oration wants one of the essentials of eloquence of the very first order. Of the three others, on the same subject, two are in explanation of measures already adopted, and scarcely come within the description of speeches delivered, in order to persuade men to act on a momentous occasion. The only remaining one was addressed to the important question, what was to be done with Lentulus and the other accomplices of Cataline. But even here the Consul approaches rather cautiously the great issue, whether the punishment of death--for so long a time, unknown in the penal jurisprudence of Rome-should be inflicted upon men of patrician families, and great interest and consideration, and,