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which can be wrung upon this peal of ronets, except now and then a hackbells, for every one must have heard ney-coach. Then he began to pick them in every possible, and impossible his teeth, and that reminded him of variety of combination. Give time, eating; and then he rang the bell, and complexion will decay, and lips which presently brought a waiter; and and cheeks will shrink and grow he took that opportunity of drawling wrinkled, sure enough. But it is out the word “ waiter” in such a needless to anticipate the work of lengthened tone, as if resolved to make years, or to give credit to old Time one word last as long as possible. for his conquests before he has won them. The edge of his scythe does Lord Bacon says, that “ Solon commore execution than that of the pared the people unto the sea, and or. sword ; we need not add the work of ators and counsellors to the winds; fancy to his,-it is more than suffi- for that the sea would be calm and ciently sure and rapid already. quiet, if the winds did not trouble it."
NEW WORKS. It has been doubted whether Vol Travels in Turkey, Egypt, Nubia, taire valued more highly his reputa- Palestine, &c., are announced, by R. tion as a poet, or as a prose writer. R. Madden. The author is stated to The following reply may throw some be a physician, and to have been solight on the subject :-A friend seeing journing for four years in these couahim engaged, would not enter for fear tries. of interrupting his labors; “ Entrez, A volume of Stories of Popular Voyentrez," said the pbilosopher of Fer- ages and travels, with illustrations; ney, “ Je ne fais que de la vile prose.” containing Abridged Narratives of re
cent travels of some of the most PopTHE IDLER.
ular Writers on South America, is anThere were many newspapers in the nounced for speedy publication. room, but there was nothing in them. In the Press.-A Series of DisserThere was a clock, but it did not seem tations, preliminary to a New Harmoto go ; at least, so he thought, but after ny of the Gospels, by the Rev. E. looking at it for a long time he found Greswell, M. A., and Fellow of C. C. it did go, but it went very slowly. C. Oxford. Then he looked at his watch, and that Captain Brooke, who is already went as slow as the clock. Then he known as a traveller by the works he took up the newspapers again one has published on the northern parts of after the other, very deliberately. He Europe, is about to present to the read the sporting intelligence and the world an Account of an interesting fashionable news. But he did not Tour he has been making in Barbary read very attentively, as he afterwards and Spain. discovered. Then he looked at the The forthcoming Historical Roclock again, and was almost angry at mance, entitled Geraldine of Desmond, the inperturbable monotony of its face. is founded on the Desmond Rebellion Then he took out his pocket-book to in the Reign of Elizabeth, and delineamuse himself by reading his memo- ates the customs, manners, and the randums, but they were very few and leading public characters of England very unintelligible. Then he rose up at that interesting epoch. from his seat, and went to the window, A work under the title of Three and looked at the people in the street; Years in Canada, is announced for he thought they looked very stupid, publication, written by Mr. Mactag. and wondered what they could all find gart, the engineer who was sent out to do with themselves. He looked at by government to superintend the the carriages, and saw none with co- works at the Rideau Canal.
In the literature of modern Europe, tions, and Harlequin changes, implies rhetoric has been cultivated with suc- a condition of society either like that cess. But this remark applies only in the monastic ages, forced to introwith any force to a period which is vert its energies from mere defect of now long past; and it is probable, books ; (whence arose the scholastic upon various considerations, that such metaphysics, admirable for its subtleanother period will never revolve. The ty, but famishing the mind, whilst it rhetorician's art, in its glory and pow. sharpened its edge in one exclusive er, has silently faded away before the direction ;) or, if it implies no absostern tendencies of the age ; and if, Jute starvation of intellect, as in the by any peculiarity of taste, or strong case of the Roman rhetoric, which determination of the intellect, a rhe- arose upon a considerable (though torician, en grand costume, were again not very various) literature, it proto appear amongst us, it is certain that claims at least a quiescent state of the he would have no better welcome than public mind, unoccupied with daily a stare of surprise as a posture-maker novelties, and at leisure from the agior balancer, not more elevated in the tations of eternal change. general estimate, but far less amusing, Growing out of the same condition than the opera-dancer or equestrian of society, there is another cause at gymnast. Nom the age of Rhetoric, work wbich will forever prevent the like that of Chivalry, is gone, and resurrection of rhetoric, viz.—the nepassed amongst forgotten things ; and cessities of public business, its vast the rhetorician can have no more extent, complexity, fulness of details, chance for returning, than the rhapso- and consequent vulgarity, as compared dist of early Greece, or the Trouba- with that of the ancients. The very dour of romance. So multiplied are same cause, by the way, furnishes an the modes of intellectual enjoyment in answer to the question moved by modern times, that the choice is ab- Hume, in one of his Essays, with resolutely distracted ; and in a bound- gard to the declension of eloquence in less theatre of pleasures, to be had at our deliberative assemblies. Elolittle or no cost of intellectual activity, quence, senatorial and forensic, at it would be marvellous indeed, if any least, has languished under the same considerable audience could be found changes of society which have proved for an exhibition which presupposes a fatal to rhetoric. The political ecostate of tense exertion on the part nomy of the ancient republics, and both of auditor and performer. To their commerce, were simple and unhang upon one's own thoughts as an elaborate-the system of their public object of conscious interest, to play services, both martial and civil, was with them, to watch and pursue them arranged on the most naked and manthrough a maze of inversions, evolu- ageable principles ; for we must not
36 ATHENEUM, vol. 2, 3d series.
confound the perplexity in our mod- vulgarized by details. The same spiern explanations of these things, with rit of differences extends to forensic a perplexity in the things themselves. eloquence. Grecian and Roman pleadThe foundation of these differences ings are occupied with questions of was in the differences of domestic life. elementary justice, large and diffuPersonal wants being few, both from sive, apprehensible even to the uninclimate and from habit, and in the structed, and connecting themselves great majority of the citizens, limited at every step with powerful and temalmost to the pure necessities of na- pestuous feelings. In British trials, ture ; hence arose, for the mass of the on the contrary, the field is foreclosed population, the possibility of surren- against any interest of so elevating a dering themselves, much more than nature, because the rights and wrongs with us, either to the one paramount of the case are almost inevitably abbusiness of the state-war, or to a sorbed to an unlearned eye by the state of Indian idleness. Rome, in technicalities of the law, or by the inparticular, during the ages of her tricacy of the facts. growing luxury, must be regarded as But this is not always the casea nation supported by other nations, doubtless not; subjects for eloquence, by largesses, in effect, that is to say, and, therefore, eloquence, will someby the plunder of conquest. Living, times arise in our senate, and our therefore, upon foreign alms, or upon courts of justice. And in one respect corn purchased by the product of tri- our British displays are more adranbute or of spoils, a nation could rea- tageously circuinstanced than the andily dispense with that expansive de- cient, being more conspicuously velopement of her internal resources, brought forward into effect by their upon which modern Europe has been contrast to the ordinary course of forced by the more equal distribution business. of power amongst the civilized world. " Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
The changes which have followed Since seldom coming, in the long year set, in the functions of our popular assem- Like stones of worth they thinly placed are, blies, correspond to the great revolu
Or captain jewels in the carcanet."'*
cu tion here described. Suppose yourself But still the objection of Hume rean ancient Athenian, at some custoin- mains unimpeached as to the fact, that ary display of Athenian oratory, what eloquence is a rarer growth of modern will be the topics ? Peace, or war, than of ancient civil polity, even in vengeance for public wrongs, or mercy those countries which have the advanto prostrate submission, national ho- tage of free institutions. The letter nor and national gratitude, glory and of this objection is sustained, but subshame, and every aspect of open ap- stantially it is disarmed, so far as its peal to the primal sensibilities of man. purpose was to argue any declension On the other hand, enter an English on the part of Christian nations, by Parliament, having the most of a pop- this explanation of ours, which traces ular character in its constitution and the impoverished condition of civil practice, that is anywhere to be found eloquence to the complexity of public in the Europe of this day; and the business. subject of debate will probably be a But eloquence in one form or other road-bill, a bill for enabling a coal-gas is immortal, and will never perish so company to assume certain privileges long as there are human hearts moving against a competitor in oil-gas ; a under the agitations of hope and fear, bill for disfranchising a corrupt bo- love and passionate hatred. And, in rough, or perhaps some technical point particular to us of the modern world, of form in the Exchequer bills' bill. as an endless source of indemnification So much is the face of public business for what we have lost in the simplicity
* Shakspeare, Sonnet 52.
of our social systems, we have received Omitting Sir Philip Sidney, and a new dowry of eloquence, and that of omitting his friend, Lord Brooke, (in the highest order, in the sanctities of whose prose there are some bursts of our religion—a field unknown to anti- pathetic eloquence, as there is of rhequity-for the Pagan religions did not toric in his verse, though too often produce much poetry, and of oratory harsh and affectedly obscure,) the first none at all.
very eminent rhetorician in the EngOn the other hand, that cause, which, lish literature is Donne. Dr. Johnson operating upon eloquence, has but ex- inconsiderately classes him in compatinguished it under a single direction, ny with Cowley, &c., under the title to rhetoric has been unconditionally of Metaphysical Poets; but Rhetorical fatal. Eloquence is not banished from would have been a more accurate dethe public business of this country, as signation. In saying that, however, useless, but as difficult, and as not we must remind our readers, that we spontaneously arising from topics such revert to the original use of the word as generally furnish the staple of de- rhetoric, as laying the principal stress bate. But rhetoric, if attempted on a upon the management of the thoughts, formal scale, would be summarily ex- and only a secondary one upon the ploded as pure soppery, and trifling ornaments of style. Few writers with time. Falstaff, on the field of have shown a more extraordinary battle, presenting his bottle of sack compass of powers than Donne ; for for a pistol, or Polonius with his he combined what no other man has quibbles, could not appear a more un- ever done—the last sublimation of diseasonable plaisanteur than a rhetori- alectical subtlety and address with the cian alighting from the clouds upon a most impassioned majesty. Massy public assembly in Great Britain, met diamonds compose the very substance for the despatch of business.
of his poem on the Metempsychosis, Under these malign aspects of the thoughts and descriptions which have modern structure of society, a struc- the fervent and gloomy sublimity of ture to which the whole world will be Ezekiel or Æschylus, whilst a diamoulded as it becomes civilized, there mond dust of rhetorical brilliances is can be no room for any revival of rhe- strewed over the whole of his occatoric in public speaking; and from the sional verses and his prose. No critisame and other causes, acting upon the cisin was ever more unhappy than that standard of public taste, quite as little of Dr. Johnson's, which denounces all room in written composition. In spite, this artificial display as so much perhowever, of the tendencies to this con- version of taste. There cannot be a summation, which have been long falser thought than this; for, upon maturing, it is a fact, that next after that principle, a whole class of comRome, England is the country in positions might be vicious, by conwhich rhetoric prospered most-at a formning to its own ideal. The artitime when science was unborn as a fice and machinery of rhetoric furnishpopular interest, and the commercial es in its degree as legitimate a basis activities of after times were yet sleep- for intellectual pleasure as any other; ing in their rudiments. This was in that the pleasure is of an inferior orthe period from the latter end of the der, can no more attaint the idea or sixteenth to the middle of the seven- model of the composition, than it can teenth century; and, though the Eng- impeach the excellence of an epigram Jish rhetoric was less true to its own that it is not a tragedy. ideal than the Roman, and often mo- The next writers of distinction, who dulated into a higher key of impas- came forward as rhetoricians, were sioned eloquence, yet, unquestionably, Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy, in some of its qualities, it remains a and Milton in many of his prose works. monument of the very finest rhetorical They labor under opposite defects : powers.
Burton is too quaint, fantastic, and
disjointed. Milton too slow, solemn, former with any but a limitary inteland continuous. In the one we see lect. Paley, from mere rudeness of the flutter of a parachute ; in the oth- metaphysical skill, has talked of the er the stately and voluminous gyrations judgment and the judiciousness of of an ascending balloon. Agile move. God : but this is profaneness, and a ment, and a certain degree of fanciful- language unworthily applied even to ness, are indispensable to rhetoric. an angelic being. To judge, that is, But Burton is not so much fanciful as to subsume one proposition under anocapricious : his motion is not the mo- ther,—to be judicious, that is, to coltion of freedom, but of lawlessness : late the means with the end, are acts he does not dance, but caper. Mil. impossible in the divine nature, and ton, on the other hand, polonaises with not to be ascribed, even under the lia grand Castilian air, in paces too se- cense of a figure, to any being which quacious and processional ; even in transcends the limitations of humanihis passages of merriment, and when ty. Many other instances there are stung into a quicker motion by person- in which Milton is taxed with having al disdain for an unworthy antago- too grossly sensualized his supernatunist, his thoughts and his imagery ral agents ; some of which, however, still appear to move to the music of the necessities of the action may exthe organ. .
cuse; and at the worst they are reaIn some measure it is a consequence dily submitted to as having an intelliof these peculiarities, and so far it is gible purpose-that of bringing so the more a duty to allow for them, mysterious a thing as a spiritual nathat the rhetoric of Milton, though ture or agency within the limits of the wanting in animation, is unusually su- representable. But the intellectual perb in its coloring; its very monoto- degradation fixed on his spiritual beny is derived frora the sublime unity ings by the rhetorical debates, is of the presiding impulse ; and hence, purely gratuitous, neither resulting it sometimes ascends into eloquence from the course of the action, nor at of the highest kind, and sometimes all promoting it. Making allowances, even into the raptures of lyric poetry. bowever, for the original error in the The main thing, indeed, wanting to conception, it must be granted that Milton, was to have fallen upon hap- the execution is in the best style; the pier subjects : for, with the exception mere logic of the debate, indeed, is of the “ Areopagitica," there is not not better managed than it would have one of his prose works upon a theme been by the House of Commons. of universal interest, or perhaps fitted But the colors of style are grave and to be the ground-work of a rhetorical suitable to afflicted angels. In the display.
Paradise Regained this is still more But, as it has happened to Milton conspicuously true : the oratory there, sometiines to give us poetry (or rheto- on the part of Satan in the Wilderric, in one instance he has unfortu- ness, is no longer of a rhetorical cast, nately given us rhetoric for poetry : but in the grandest style of impassionthis occurs in the Paradise Lost, where ed eloquence that can be imagined as the debates of the fallen angels are the fit expression for the movements carried on by a degrading process of of an angelic despair : and in particugladiatorial rhetoric. Nay, even the lar the speech, on being first challengcouncils of God, though not debated ed by our Saviour, beginning to and fro, are, however, expounded ("Tis true, I am that spirit unfortunate," rhetorically. This is astonishing ; for no one was better aware than Milton is not excelled in sublimity by any of the distinction between the discur- passage in the poem. sive and intuitive acts of the mind, as Milton, however, was not destined apprehended by the old metaphysi- to gather the spolia opima of English cians, and the incompatibility of the rhetoric : two contemporaries of his