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that, if not examined with accuracy and judgment, it is apt to betray the unwary into a faulty imitation; and I am of opinion, that it has sometimes produced this effect. In most of his Orations, especially those composed in the earlier part of his life, there is too much art; even carried the length of ostentation. There is too visible a parade of Eloquence. He seems often to aim at obtaining admiration, rather than at operating conviction, by what he says. Hence, on some occasions, he is showy rather than solid; and diffuse, where he ought to have been pressing. His sentences are, at all times, round and sonorous; they cannot be accused of monotony, for they possess variety of cadence; but, from too great a study of magnificence, he is sometimes deficient in strength. On all occasions, where there is the least room for it, he is full of himself. His great actions, and the real services which he had performed to his country, apologize for this in part; ancient manners, too, imposed fewer restraints from the side of decorum; but, even after these allowances made, Cicero's ostentation of himself cannot be wholly palliated; and his Orations, indeed all his works, leave on our minds the impression of a good man, but withal, of a vain man.
The defects which we have now taken notice of in Cicero's Eloquence were not unobserved by his own contemporaries. This we learn from Quinctilian, and from the author of the dialogue "de Causis "Corruptæ Eloquentiæ." Brutus, we are informed, called him, "fractum et elumbem," broken and enervated. "Suorum temporum homines," says Quinctilian, "incessere audebant eum ut tumidiorem
& Asianum, et redundantem, et in repetitionibus "nimium, et in salibus aliquando frigidum, & in
"compositione fractum et exsultantum, et penè viro "molliorem." * These censures were undoubtedly carried too far; and savour of malignity and personal enmity. They saw his defects, but they aggravated them; and the source of these aggravations can be traced to the difference which prevailed in Rome, in Cicero's days, between two great parties with respect to Eloquence; the "Attici," and the "Asiani." The former, who called themselves the Attics, were the patrons of what they conceived to be the chaste, simple, and natural Style of Eloquence; from which they accused Cicero as having departed, and as leaning to the florid Asiatic manner. In several of his rhetorical works, particularly in his "Orator ad Brutum," Cicero, in his turn, endeavours to expose this sect, as substituting a frigid and jejune manner, in place of the true Attic Eloquence; and contends that his own composition was formed upon the real Attic Style. In the 10th Chapter of the last book of Quinctilian's Institutions, a full account is given of the disputes between these two parties, and of the Rhodian or middle manner between the Attics and the Asiatics. Quinctilian himself declares on Cicero's side; and whether it be called Attic or Asiatic, prefers the full, the copious, and the amplifying Style. He concludes with this very just observation: "Plures sunt elo"quentiæ facies; sed stultissimum est quærere, ad
quam recturus se sit orator; cum omnis species, "quæ modo recta est, habeat usum. Utetur enim,
* "His contemporaries ventured to reproach him as swelling, "redundant, and Asiatic; too frequent in repetitions; in his "attempts towards wit, sometimes cold; and in the strain of his "composition, feeble, desultory, and more effeminate than became a man."
“ut res exiget, omnibus; nec pro causâ modo, sed “pro partibus causæ.” *
On the subject of comparing Cicero and Demosthenes, much has been said by critical writers. The different manners of these two princes of Eloquence, and the distinguishing characters of each, are so strongly marked in their writings, that the comparison is, in many respects, obvious and easy. The character of Demosthenes is vigour and austerity; that of Cicero is gentleness and insinuation. In the one, you find more manliness; in the other, more ornament. The one is more harsh, but more spirited and cogent; the other, more agreeable, but withal, looser and weaker.
To account for this difference, without any prejudice to Cicero, it has been said, that we must look to the nature of their different auditories: that the refined Athenians followed with ease the concise and convincing Eloquence of Demosthenes; but that a manner more popular, more flowery, and declamatory, was requisite in speaking to the Romans, a people less acute, and less acquainted with the arts of speech. But this is not satisfactory. For we must observe, that the Greek Orator spoke much oftener before a mixed multitude, than the Roman. Almost all the public business of Athens was transacted in popular assemblies. The common people
"Eloquence admits of many different forms; and nothing (" can be more foolish than to inquire by which of them an "Orator is to regulate his Composition; since every form which "is in itself just, has its own place and use. The Orator, according (6 as circumstances require, will employ them all; suiting them "not only to the cause or subject of which he treats, but to the "different parts of that subject."
were his hearers, and his judges. Whereas Cicero generally addressed himself to the "Patres Con
scripti," or in criminal trials to the Prætor, and the Select Judges; and it cannot be imagined, that the persons of highest rank and best education in Rome, required a more diffuse manner of pleading than the common citizens of Athens, in order to make them understand the cause, or relish the Speaker. Perhaps we shall come nearer the truth, by observing, that to unite all the qualities, without the least exception, that form a perfect Orator, and to excel equally in each of those qualities, is not to be expected from the limited powers of human genius. The highest degree of strength is, I suspect, never found united with the highest degree of smoothness and ornament; equal attentions to both are incompatible; and the genius that carries ornament to its utmost length, is not of such a kind, as can excel as much in vigour. For there plainly lies the characteristical difference between these two celebrated Orators.
It is a disadvantage to Demosthenes, that, besides his conciseness, which sometimes produces obscurity, the language in which he writes is less familiar to most of us than the Latin, and that we are less acquainted with the Greek antiquities than we are with the Roman. We read Cicero with more ease, and of course with more pleasure. Independent of this circumstance, too, he is, no doubt, in himself, a more agreeable writer than the other. But notwithstanding this advantage, I am of opinion, that were the state in danger, or some great national interest at stake, which drew the serious attention of the public, an Oration in the spirit and strain of
Demosthenes would have more weight, and produce greater effects, than one in the Ciceronian manner. Were Demosthenes's Philippics spoken in a British Assembly, in a similar conjuncture of affairs, they would convince and persuade at this day. The rapid Style, the vehement reasoning, the disdain, anger, boldness, freedom, which perpetually animate them, would render their success infallible over any modern assembly. I question whether the same can be said of Cicero's Orations; whose Eloquence, however beautiful, and however well suited to the Roman taste, yet borders oftener on declamation, and is more remote from the manner in which we now expect to hear real business and causes of importance treated. *
In comparing Demosthenes and Cicero, most of the French Critics are disposed to give the preference to the latter. P. Rapin the Jesuit, in the Parallels which he has drawn between some of the most eminent Greek and Roman writers, uniformly decides in favour of the Roman. For the preference which he gives to Cicero, he assigns, and lays stress on one reason of a pretty extraordinary nature; viz. that Demosthenes could not possibly have so complete an insight as Cicero into the manners and passions of men; Why? Because he had not the advantage of perusing Aristotle's Treatise of Rhetoric, wherein, says our Critic, he has fully laid open that mystery and to support this weighty argument,
* In this judgment I concur with Mr. David Hume, in his Essay upon Eloquence. He gives it as his opinion, that, of all human productions, the Orations of Demosthenes present to us the models which approach the nearest to perfection.