Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

9

" the sun ? shew yourself in the city ? appear before

your fellow-citizens ? Ought not the very sight of "this corpse, and these images, which seem to re"proach you with all your extravagancies, to fill you " with fear and horror?

Sometimes only a turn, or a sentiment thrown into a speech, produced this effect. Cicero, in the short narrative he made in pleading for Ligarius, might, according to Quintilian's observation, be satisfied with saying, [i] Tum Ligarius nullo se implicari negotio passus est. '[k] But he joins an image to it, which makes the narrative more probable and moving. Tum Ligarius domum spectans, f ad suos redire cupiens, nullo se implicari negotio passus est.

[?] Virgil, in less than a single verse, gives a very moving description of the death of a young man, who had left Argos, the place of his birth, in order to ata tach himself to Evander,

Et dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos.
“And his last thoughts recal his native Argos.”

[m] This tender regard of a dying young man for his country, which he should never see more, and melancholy remembrance of what was most delightful and dear to him in the world, form a beautiful picture in three words : dulces... reminiscitur ... moriens. These

passages are very moving, because the images they express awaken the sentiments of love and tenderness for one's country, which every man bears in his heart; and they have a nearer relation to that kind of emotions we are going to speak of.

[n] Besides this first species of the strongest and most violent passions, which the rhetoricians call 7905 there is another sort they call flos, which consists in (i] Pro Ligar. n. 3.

tur Argos? Ibid. [4] Ita, quod exponebat, & ra- [n] Affectus igitur hos concitatione fecit credibile, & affectus quo. tos, illos mites atque compolitos esse que implevit. Quint. 1. 4. C. 2.

dixerunt: in altero vehementer [!] Æneid. l. 10. v, 782.

commotos, in altero lenes: denique {m] Quid ? Non idem poeta pe- hos imperare, illos persuadere : hos nitus ultimi fati cepit imaginem, ut ad perturbationem, illos ad benevo. diceret, Et dulces moriens reminiscia lentiam prævalere. Quint.l.6.c. 3.

softer

63

1

softer and more insinuating sentiments, and yet are not therefore less moving or lively ; [0] the effect of which is not to overthrow and carry away everything, as it were by main force; but to affect and soften, by insinuating itself gently into the most inward recesses of the auditors hearts. These Passions are natural to those who are united in some strict union ; a prince and his subjects, a father and his children, a tutor and his pupils, a benefactor and those who receive the effects of his beneficence. Those Passions consist, with superiors who have been injured, in a certain characterof mildness, goodness, humanity, and patience, which is without gall and bitterness; can bear injuries, and forget them; and which cannot resist prayers and tears; and with the culpable, in a readiness in being made sensible of their faults: acknowledging them ; testifying their grief for them; humbling and submitting themselves, and giving all the satisfaction that can be desired. All this must be done after a plain and natural manner, without study and affectation; the air, the outward behaviour, the ges

[o] *Hgos id erit, quod ante om- benevolentiam conciliandam com. nia bonitate commendabitur : non paratum ; hoc, vehemens, incensolum mite ac placidum, sed ple- sum, incitatum, quo causæ eripiun. rumque blandum & humanum, & tur: quod cùm rapidè fertur, susti. audientibus amabile atque jucun- neri nullo pacto potest. Orat. il. dum. In quo exprimendo summa 128. virtus ea est, ut fluere omnia ex

Non semper fortis oratio quæri. naturâ reruin hominumqne vide- tur, sed sæpe placida, summissa, leantur, quo mores dicentis ex ora- nis, quz maximè commendat reos. tione pelluceant, & quodammodo Horum igitur exprimere mores agnoscantur. Quod est sine dubio oratione, justos, integros, religiointer conjunctas maximè personas, sos, timidos, perferentes injuriarum, quoties perferimus, ignoscimus, sa- mirum quiddam valet : & hoc vel tisfacimus, monemus, procul ab in principiis, vel in re narrandâ, vel irâ, procul ab odio. . . Hoc omne in perorando tantam habet vim, si bonum & comem virum poscit. est suaviter & cum sensu tractatum, Quint. 1. 6. c. 3.

ut sæpe plus quam causa valeat. Duo sunt, quæ bene tractata ab Tantum autem efficitur sensu quooratore admirabilem eloquentiam dam ac ratione dicendi, ut quasi faciunt: quorum alterum est quod mores orationis effingat oratio. GeGræci body vocant, ad naturam, & nere enim quodam sententiarum, & ad mores, & ad omnem vitæ con

genere verborum, adhibitâ etiam suetudinem accommodatum : alte- actione leni, facilitateque signifirum quod iidem nabrtıxòr nominant, candi, efficitur ut probi, ut bene quo perturbantur animi & conci- morati, ut boni viri esse videantur. tantur, in quo uno regnat oratio. 2. de Orat. n. 183, 184. Illud superius come, jucundum, ad

ture,

ture, tone of voice, style, and every thing, must breathe something inexpressibly soft and tender, which proceeds from the heart, and goes directly to it. The manners of the person who speaks inust shew themselves in his discourse, without his observing it. It is well known, that nothing is more amiable than such a character, not only for eloquence, but in the ordinary commerce of life, and we cannot prompt youth too much to be attentive to it, to study and imitate it.

[p] We find a beautiful example of this in a homily of St. John Chrysostom to the people of Antioch. As this

passage is very eloquent, and very fit to form the taste of youth, sutter me to expatiate a little more upon it, than perhaps the matter I am now discussing requires; and to make a kind of an analysis and epitome of it.

The emperor Theodosius had sent some officers and soldiers to Antioch, in order to punish that rebellious city for a sedition, in which his own statues and those of his deceased consort Flaccilla were thrown down. Flavian, bishop of Antioch, notwithstanding the inclemency of the season, notwithstanding his very advanced age, and though his sister was dying when he left her, set out immediately to implore that prince's clemency in favour of his people. Being come to the palače, and adınitted into the emperor's presence,

no sooner perceived that prince, but he stopped at a distance with down-cast eyes, shedding tears, covering his face, and standing silent as though himself had been guilty. This is an artful exordium, and this silence is infinitely more eloquent than all the expressions he could use.

And indeed St. Chrysostom observes, that, by this mournful and pathetic exterior, his design was to prepare the way for his oration, and to insinuate himself into the emperor's heart insensibly, in order that sentiments of lenity and compassion, which his cause required, might succeed to those of anger and vengeance.

The emperor, seeing him in this condition, did not employ any harsh reproaches, which Flavian might na

6) Homil. 20.
DS

turally

he

turally expect. Ile did not say to him, What; are you come to crave pardon for rebels, for ungrateful wretches, for a people unworthy of life, and who merit the severest punishments ? But, assuming a soft tone of voice, he made a long enumeration of all the good offices he had done for the city of Antioch; and, upon mentioning every one of those favours, he adds: Is this the acknowledgment I was to expect? What cause of complaint had its citizens against me? What injury had I done them? But why should they extend their insolence even to the dead? llad they received any wrong from them? What tenderness did I not shew for their city? Is it not notorious, that I loved it more than my own country, and that it gave me the greatest pleasure to think I should soon be in a condition of taking a journey to see it!

Then the holy Bishop, being unable to bear such moving reproaches any longer, says with deep sighs : It is true, Sir, the goodness you have vouchsafed us could not be carried higher ; which enbances our crime, and our grief : whatever punishment you may inflict upon us, it will still fall short of what we deserve. Alas! our present condition is no common degrce of punishment; to have the whole earth know our ingratitude !

If the barbarians had demolished our city, it would still have had a resource, and some hopes, whilst it had

you for a protector. But to whom shall it now have recourse, since it has made itself unworthy of your protection?

The envy of the devil, jealous of her happiness, has plunged her into this abyss of evils, out of which you alone can extricate her. I dare say it, Sir, it is your very affection that has brought them upon us, by exciting the jealousy of that wicked spirit against us. But, like God himself, you may draw infinite good out of the evil which Satan intended against us.

Your clemency on this occasion will be more honourable to you than the most celebrated victories. Your statues have been thrown down. If you pardon this crime, we will raise others in your honour, not of marble or brass, which time destroys, but such as will exist eternally in the hearts of all those who shall hear of this action.

He afterwards proposed the example of Constantine to him, who, being importuned by his courtiers to display his vengeance on some seditious people that had disfigured his statues by throwing stones at them, did nothing more than stroke his face with his hand, and told them smiling, that he did not feel himself hurt.

He sets before him his own clemency, and puts him in mind of one of his own laws, in which, after hav

ordered the prisons to be opened, and the criminals to be pardoned, at the feast of Easter, he added this memorable saying; Would to God I were able in the same manner to open the graves, and restore the dead to life! That time is come, Sir; you can now do it, &c.

He makes the honour of religion concerned in this affair. All the Jews and Heathens, says he, have their eyes upon you, and are waiting for the sentence you will

pronounce. Ifit be favourable to us, they will be filled with admiration, and cry out, Surely the God of the Christians must be very powerful ! He checks the anger of those who acknowledge no master upon earth, and can transform men into angels.

After.he had answered the objection that might be made with regard to the unhappy consequences which were to be feared, if this crime should escape with impunity; and likewise demonstrated, that Theodosius, by such a rare example of clemency, might edify the whole earth, and instruct all future ages; che proceeds thus :

It will be infinitely glorious for you, Sir, to have granted this pardon at the request of a minister of the Lord; and mankind will see, that, without considering the unworthiness of the ambassador, you respected nothing in him but the power of the Master who sent him.

« ZurückWeiter »