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That a knowledge of Rhetoric forms a very material part of the education of a polite scholar must be universally allowed. Any attempt, therefore, however imperfect, to make so useful an art more generally known, has claim to that praise which is the reward of good intention. With this the editor will be sufficiently satisfied; since being serviceable to others is the most agreeable method of becoming contented with ourselyes.
Pronunciation or Delivery
A PROPER acquaintance with the circle of liberal arts is requisite to the study of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, To extend the knowledge of them must be the first care of those, who wish, either to write with reputation, or so to express themselves in public, as to command attention. Among the ancients it was an essential principle, that the orator ought to be conversant in every department of learning: No art indeed can be contrived which can stamp merit on a composition, rich or splendid in expression, but barren or erroneous in sentiment. Oratory, it is true, haş often been disgraced by attempts to establish a false criterion of its value. Writers have endeavoured to supply want of matter by graces of composition; and courted the temporary applause of the ignorant instead of the lasting approbas tion of the discerning, But such imposture must be short and transitory. The body and substance of any yaluable composition must be formed of knowledge and science. Rhetoric completes the structure, and adds the polish; but firm and solid bodies only are able to şeceive it.
Among the learned it has long been a contested, and remains still an undecided question, whether nature or art contribute most toward excellence in writing and dis
Various may be the opinions with respect to the manner, in which art can most effectually furnish aid for such a purpose ; and it were presumption to assert, that rhetorical rules, how just soever, are sufficient to form an orator. Private application and study, supposing natural genius to be favourable, are certainly superior to any system of public instruction. But, though rules and instructions cannot effect every thing which is requisite, they may be of considerable use. If they cannot inspire genius, they can give it direction and assistance. If they cannot make barrenness fruitful, they can correct redundancy. They present proper models for imitation; they point out the principal beauties which ought to be studied, and the chief faults
which ought to be avoided ; and consequently tend to enlighten taste, and to conduct genius from unnatural deviations into its proper channel. Though they are incapable of producing great excellencies, they may at least serve to prevent considerable mistakes.
In the education of youth, no object has appeared more important to wise men in every age, than to excite in them an early relish for the entertainments of taste. From these to the discharge of the higher and more important duties of life, the transition is natural and easy. Of those minds, which have this elegant and liberal turn, the most pleasing hopes may be entertained. On the contrary, entire insensibility, to eloquence, poetry, or any of the fine arts, may justly be considered, as a bad symptom in youth; and supposes them inclined to low gratifications, or capable of being engagem ed only in the common pursuits of life.
Improvement of taste seems to be more or less connected with every good and virtuous disposition. By giving frequent exercise to the tender and humane passions, a cultivated taste increases sensibility ; yet, at the same time, it tends to soften the more violent and angry emotions.
Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
These polish'd arts have humaniz'd mankind,
Poetry, eloquence, and history continually exhibit to our view those elevated sentiments and high examples, which tend to nourish in our minds public spirit, love of glory, contempt of external fortune, and admiration of every thing, truly great, noble, and illustrious.