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Farrand, Mallory, & Co. Boston, Lyman, Mallory,& Co.
BY THE CHEVALIER RAMSAY.
Both the ancients and the moderns have treated of eloquence, with different views, and in different ways; as logicians, as grammarians, and as critics : but we still wanted an author who should handle this delicate subject as a philosopher, and a christian: and this the late Archbishop of Cambray has done in the following dialogues. - In the ancient writers we find many solid precepts of rhetoric, and very just rules laid down with great exactness : but they are ofttimes too numerous, too dry ; and, in fine, rather curious than useful. Our author reduces the essential rules of this wonderful art, to these three points; proving, painting, and moving the passions.
To qualify his orator for proving, or establishing any truth, he would have him a phi. losopher; who knows how to enlighten the understanding, while he moves the passions ;
and to act at once upon all the powers of the mind; not only by placing the truth in so clear a light as to gain attention and assent; but likewise by moving all the secret springs of the soul, to make it love that truth it is convinced of. In one word, our author would have his orator's mind filled with bright, useful truths, and the most exalted views.
That he may be able to paint, or describe well, he should have a poetic kind of enthusiasm; and know how to employ beautiful figures, lively images, and bold touches, when the subject requires them. But this art ought to be entirely concealed : or, if it must appear, it should seem to be a just copy of nature. Wherefore our author rejects all such false ornaments as serve only to please the ear, with harmonious sounds; and the imagination, with ideas that are more gay and sparkling, than just and solid.
To move the passions he would have an orator set every truth in its proper place; and so connect them that the first may make way for the second ; and the next support the former: so that the discourse shall gradually advance in strength and clearness, till the hear
ers perceive the whole weight and force of the truth. And then he ought to display it in the liveliest images; and both in his words and gesture use all those affecting movements that are proper to express the passions he would excite.
It is by reading the ancients that we must form our taste, and learn the art of eloquence in all its extent. But seeing that some of the ancients themselves have their defects, we must read them with caution and judgment. Our learned author distinguishes the genuine beauties of the purest antiquity, from the false ornaments used in after ages; he points out what is excellent, and what is faulty, both in sacred and profane authors; and shews us that the eloquence of the Holy Scripture, in many places, surpasses that of the Greeks and Romans, in native simplicity, liveliness, grandeur, and in every thing that can recommend truth to our assent and admiration.