Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

To take away the repetition from all these passages, is in reality to divest them of all their beauty, to weaken all their strength, and deprive the passions of the language natural to them.

The Antithesis, and such like Figures. Antitheses, when artfully employed, says Father Bouhours, are extremely pleasing in works of genius. They have pretty near the same effect in these, that lights and shadows have in painting, when the painter has the art of distributing them judiciously; or that the trebles or basses have in music, which an able master knows how to blend together. [f] licit

Vicit pudorem libido, timorem audacia, rationem amentia... [g] Odit populus Romanus priratam luxuriam, publicam magnificentium diligit ...[h] Christian generals must be tender and charitable, even when their hands are bloody; and inwardly adore the Creator, when they find themselves reduced to the melancholy necessity of destroying his creatures.

There are other Figures which consist chiefly in a certain disposition and relation between words, which being disposed with art, propriety, and symmetry, as it were, in a particular order, correspond with one another, and sooth the ear and mind agreeably, by this kind of regular and studied harmony.

[i] Cicero did not neglect that ornament of speech, which some of the ancients, as Isocrates, were vastly fond of; and he has shewed the use we ought to make of these Figures, by employing them seldom, and with moderation; and being always careful to heighten them by the force and justness of the thoughts, without which they would have very little merit.

[k] Est enim hæc, judices, non scripta, sed nara le.r'; quam non didicimus, accepimus, legimus, verum ex naturúipsá arripuimus, hausimus, expressimus; ad quam

[] Pro Cluent, n. 15. non ingratæ, nisi copiâ redundet, (8) Pro Mur. 1. 76.

voluptati ; & rem alioqui levem, [b] Flechier.

sententiarum pondere implevit. [i] Delectatus est his etiam M. Quint. l. 9. c. 1. Tullius; verùm & modum adhibuit [k] Pro Mil. 1. 10.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

non docti, sed facti, non instituti, sed imbuti sumus: ut, si vita nostra in aliquas insidias, si in vim, si in tela aut latronum aut inimicorum incidisset, omnes honesta ratio esset expediendæ salutis. “For, my judges, there is “a law not written to man, but born " with him. A law which we have not learned nor “ read, but seized upon, enjoyed from nature; a law " which we have not been taught, but formed to;

not instituted in, but tinctured with; namely, that “ if our lives are sought by any kinds of treachery,

we have a right by every honourable means to repel the injury.”

[2] Seneca is full of these Figures: Magnus est ille qui fictilibus sic utitur, quemadmodum argento ; nec ille minor est, qui sic argento utitur, quemadmodum fictilibus. Infirmi dnimi est, pati non posse divitias. “ He may be called a truly great man who uses ves“ sels of earthen ware so as if they were silver; nor is “ he less, who employs silver as if it were earthen “ ware. It argues a weak mind not to be able to suffer "richies.” [m] Tu quidem orbis terrarum rationes administras, tam abstinenter quàm alienas, tam diligenter quàm tuas, tam religiosè, quam publicas. In officio amorem consequeris, in quo odium vitare difficile est. “ You indeed administer the business of “ the whole world with frugality, as if they belonged to another; with diligence, as if they were your

own; religiously, as if they wholly belonged to the public. You gain love in office, in which it is no easy matter to avoid hatred."

[n] A man great in adversity by his courage, and in good fortune by his modesty, in difficulties by his prudence, in danger by his valour, and in religion by his piety.

He only changed wirtues, when fortune changed her countenance; happy without pride, unhappy with dignity.

In his youth he had all the prudence of advanced age, and in an advanced age all the vigour of youth. (1) Senec. Ep. s. [m] De Brev., vitæ, c.18. [n] Flechier.

[0] We easily image to ourselves the ardour and perseverance with which a man of genius applies himself to any study which is his chief pleasure ; und a man of virtue, who makes it an essential duty.

He possessed that innocence and simplicity of manners, which we generally preserve when we converse less with men thun with books; and he had nothing of' that severity or savage pride with which the commerce of books, without that of men, is too apt to inspire.

[p] Onealone is smitten, and all are delivered. God smites his innocent Son for the sake of guiltymen; and pardons guilty men for the sake of his innocent Son.

All these thoughts are very just and beautiful in themselves; but it must be owned, that the turn and manner in which they are expressed, make them much more graceful. In order to make us more sensible of this, we need only reduce them to a plain and vulgar way of speaking. This I will endeavour to display in the two beautiful passages of Cicero, where the disposition of words, of which we are speaking, appears in a peculiar manner.

When that great orator, pleading for Ligarius, had told Cæsar, that princes resemble the gods in nothing more than in doing good to men;, he might have barely said, that his fortune and kind disposition procured him that glorious advantage : this is the foundation of the thought: but Cicero expresses it in a much more noble and elegant manner, by observing separately, by a kind of distribution, what he owes

fortune, and what should be ascribed to his natural inclination. The one gives him the power of doing good, the other the will; and it is in this that the greatness of his fortune, and the excellency of his good nature consist, [9] Nihil habet nec fortuna tua majus quam ut possis, nec natura tua melius quam ut velis, conservare quamplurimos. All the words here correspond with a surprising exactness. Fortuna, natura : majus, melius : possis, velis. Is it possible to say more in fewer words, or with more beauty ? [0] Fonten. [p] Bossuet, [9] Pro Lig, n. 38.

The

[ocr errors]

The elogium of Roscius the comedian is in the same taste. [s] Etenim cum artifex ejusmodi sit (Q. Roscius,) ut solus dignus videatur esse qui scenam introcat ; tum vir ejusmodi est, ut solus videatur dignus qui non accedat. Cicero makes a noble encomium upon the same Roscius, in another place, which may likewise teach us how the same thought may be turned different ways. [t] Qui medius fidius (audacter dico) plus fidei quam artis, plus veritatis quam

disci pline possidet in se: quem populus Romanis meliorem virum quam histrionem esse arbitratur: qui ita dignissimus est scená propter artificium, ut dignissimus sit curiá propter abstinentiam. “Who by all that's

credible (I speak it with confidence) possesses more “ faithfulness than art; more truth than discipline. He is thought by every Roman a better man than he is a player; and is so far above all, as to be wor

thy of the stage for his skill, and of the senate for “his temperance.” This double encomium is reduced to this, that Roscius has more of the honest man than the excellent comedian. In how many shapes is this thought represented to us?

Can we imagine any thing has more delicacy than the first turn which Cicero gives it ? “ Roscius is so excellent an actor, that * he alone seems worthy of mounting the stage ; but, “ on the other hand, he is a man of so much virtue, " that he alone seems worthy of never appearing upon it.”

The second encomium is as delicate as the former. The last member would perhaps have been more graceful, if a word that ends like abstinentiam, had been substituted instead of artificium. For one of the principal beauties of the Figures we are here treating of, and which consists in a studied and measured order, is, that the words should not only answer one another in sense, but likewise in sound and cadence. Ita dignissimus est scenâ propter artis peritiam, ut dignissimus sit curiâ propter abstinentium. But Cicero chose to renounce that minute elegance, rather than enervate the beauty of the sense, by an ex

[-] Pro Quint. Rosc. n. 78. [+] Pro Quint. Rosc. com. n. 17.

pression

pression not so proper; and he gives us an opportunity of adding in this place some reflections of Quintilian, on the use that is to be made of such Figures.

[u] Since they consist wholly in certain turns, and a certain disposition of words, and that these must be employed only to express the thoughts; it would be manifestly absurd to apply ourselves entirely to those turns and to that disposition of words, and at the same time neglect the very foundation both of thoughts and of things. But how just soever we may suppose these Figures to be, they must however be used sparingly; for the more artful and studied they appear, the more evident is the affectation, and consequently the more faulty. [.x] To conclude, the nature of the things we treat of must be susceptible of this kind of ornaments. For when it is proposed, for instance, to affect and melt the auditors, to terrify them by a view of the evils which threaten them, to raise a just indignation in them against vice, to employ earnest entreaties; would not an orator be ridiculous, should he attempt to effect this by regular periods, antitheses, and such like Figures, which are proper only to distinguish the passions, and to expose the vanity of an orator solely intent upon himself, and the care of displaying his wit at a time when he should have no thoughts but to draw tears from his auditors, and fill them with the sentiments of fear, anger or grief, necessary to his purpose ?

Figures of Allusion. I must not conclude this article, which relates to the Figures of words, without saying something of

[u] Sunt qui neglecto rerum pon. [x] Sciendum imprimis quid dere, & viribus sententiarum, si vel quisque in orando postulet locus : inania verba in hos modos depra- quid persona, quid tempus. . . Ubi vârint, summos se judicent artifices, enim atrocitate, invidiâ, miseratioideóque non desinunt eas nectere : ne pugnandum est, quis ferat conquas sine sententiâ sectari tam est trapositis, & pariter cadentibus, & ridiculum, quam quærere habitum consimilibus, irascentem, fentem, gestumque sine corpore. Quint. l. rogantem ? cùm in his rebus cura

verborum deroget affectibus fidem, Sed ne hæ quidem densandæ sunt & ubicumque ars ostentatur, veritas nimis. Ibid.

abesse videatur, Ibid,

those

9. C. 3.

« ZurückWeiter »