« ПретходнаНастави »
the treasures he had amassed there, he proceeded to Rhodes, purposely to hear the celebrated Molo. Though he had already acquired great reputation among the lawyers of Rome, he was not in the least ashamed of taking new lessons under him, and of becoming his disciple a second time. But he had no reason to repent it; for this great master, taking him again under his tuition, corrected what was still vicious in his style; and completely retrenched that excessive redundancy, which like a river that overflowed its banks, had neither measure nor boundaries.
Cicero returned to Rome after two years absence, not only more accomplished, but almost a new man. He had acquired a sweeter voice, his style was become more correct, and less verbose; and even his body was grown more robust. He found two orators at Rome, who had gained great reputation, and whom he much desired to equal; these were Cotta and Hortensius, but especially the latter, who was very near of the same age with himself, and whose manner of writing bore a near resemblance to his own. It is not an idle curiosity in young men designed for the bar, to see those two great orators contending for prizes, like two wrestlers, and disputing for victory with one another, during several years, through a noble emulation. I shall here relate a part of what Cicero tells us on that subject.
Hortensius wanted none of those qualifications, either natural or acquired, which form the great orator. He had a lively genius, an inconceivable passion for study, a large extent of knowledge, a prodigious memory, and so perfect a manner of
pronunciation, that the most celebrated actors of his time, went on purpose to hear him, in order to form themselves by his example for gesture and declamation. Thus he made a shining figure at the bar, and acquired great reputation.
But there being nothing further to animate his ambition, after he was raised to the consulship, and desirous of a more happy way of life, as he imagined, or at least a more easy one, with the great possessions he had acquired, he began to grow indolent, and abated very much of the warmth he had always entertained for study from his childhood. There was some difference in his manner of pleading, the first, second, and third years after his consulship; but this was scarcely perceivable; and none but the learned could observe it as happens to pictures, the brightness of whose colours decay insensibly. This declension increased with his years, and when his fire and vivacity left him, he grew every day more unlike himself.
Cicero, however, redoubling his efforts, made a very great progress, endeavouring to come up with his rival, and even outstrip him, if possible, in that noble career of glory, where pleaders are allowed to dispute the palm with their best friends. A new species of eloquence, beautiful as well as energetic, which he introduced at the bar, drew people's eyes upon him, and made him the object of public admiration. He himself gives an excellent picture of this, but in a curious and de licate manner; by observing what was wanting in others, and showing by that means what was most admired in himself. I shall transcribe the
whole passage, because youth may therein see, all the parts which form this great orator.
'No person at that time,' says Cicero, 'made polite literature his particular study, without which there is no perfect eloquence: no one studied philosophy thoroughly, which alone teaches us at one and the same time, to live and speak well: no one learned the civil law, which is absolutely necessary for an orator, to enable him to plead well in private causes, and form a true judgment in public affairs: there was no person well skilled in the Roman history, or able to make a proper use of it in pleading: no one could raise a cheerfulness in the judges, and unruffle them as it were, by seasonable railleries after having vigorously pushed his adversary by the strength and solidity of his arguments; no one had the art of transferring or converting the circumstance of a private affair into a common or general one: no person could sometimes depart from his subject by prudent digressions, to throw in the agreeable into his discourse: in fine, no person could incline the judges sometimes to anger, sometimes to compassion; and inspire them with whatever sentiments he pleased, wherein, however, the principal merit of an orator consists.'
Cicero's great success roused Hortensius from his lethargy, especially when he saw him promoted to the consulate fearing, no doubt, that now he was equal to him in dignity, he would surpass him in merit. They afterwards pleaded together for twelve years, lived in great unity, and had an
esteem for one another, each exalting the other much above himself. But the public gave the preference to Cicero without hesitation.
The latter orator tells us the reason why Hortensius was more agreeable to the public in his youth, than in his advanced years. He gave into a florid kind of eloquence, enriched with happy expressions; a great beauty and delicacy of thought, which was often more shining than solid; an uncommon correctness, justness, and elegance. His discourses thus, laboured with infinite care and art, supported by a musical voice, an agreeable action, and an exquisite utterance, were extremely pleasing in a young man, and at first engrossed the applause of all men. But afterwards this kind of gay eloquence became unseasonable, because the weight of the public employments he had passed through, and the maturity of his years, required something more grave and serious. He was always the same orator, had always the same style, but not the same success. Besides as his ardour for study was very much abated, and he did not take the same pains as formerly, the thoughts which till then had brightened his pieces, having no longer their former embellishment, but appearing with a negligent air, lost most of their splendour, and by that means made the orator sink very much in his reputation. Rollin.
THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF CRITICISM.
ANCIENT Greece, in its happy days, was the seat of liberty, of sciences, and of arts. In this fair region, fertile of wit, the epic writers came first; then the lyric; then the tragic; and, lastly, the historians, the comic writers, and the orators; each in their turns delighting whole multitudes, and commanding the attention and admiration of all. Now, when wise and thinking men, the subtile investigators of principles and causes, observed the wonderful effect of these works upon the human mind, they were prompted to inquire whence this should proceed; for that it should happen merely from chance, they could not well believe.
Here therefore we have the rise and origin of criticism, which in its beginning was a deep and philosophical search into the primary laws and elements of good writing, as far as they could be collected from the most approved perform
In this contemplation of anthors, the first critics not only attended to the powers and different species of words; the force of numerous composition, whether in prose or verse; the aptitude of its various kinds to different subjects; but they further considered that, which is the basis of all, that is to say, in other words, the meaning of the sense. This led them at once into the most curious of subjects; the nature of man in general, the different characters of men, as they differ in rank or age; their reason and their passions; how the one was to be persuaded, the others to be raised