Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

neither those stories nor my allegations do always serve simply for example, authority, or ornament, I do not only regard them for the use I make of them: they carry sometimes besides what I apply them to, the seed of a more rich, and a bolder matter, and sometimes collaterally a more delicate sound both to me myself, who will express no more in this place, and to others who shall happen to be of my ear.

But returning to the speaking virtue, I find no great choice betwixt, not knowing to speak anything but very ill, and not knowing to speak anything but very well. «Non est ornamentum virile concinnitas.”- Sen. Ep. 6. «Neatness of style is no manly ornament. » The sages tell us that as to what concerns knowledge there is nothing but philosophy; and to what concerns effects nothing but virtue, that is generally proper to all degrees, and to all orders. There is something like this in these two other philosophers, for they also promise eternity to the letters they write to their friends; but 'tis after another manner, and by accommodating themselves, for a good end, to the vanity of another; for they write to them that if the concern of making themselves known to future ages, and the thirst of glory, do yet detain them in the management of public affairs, and make them fear the solitude and retirement to which they would persuade them; let them never trouble themselves more about it, forasmuch as they shall have credit enough with posterity to assure them, that were there nothing else but the very letters thus writ to them, those letters will render their names as known, and famous as their own public actions themselves could do. And besides this difference, these are not idle and empty letters that contain nothing but a fine jingle of well-chosen words and finecouched phrases, but rather replete and abounding with grave and learned discourses, by which a man may render himself, not more eloquent, but more wise, and that instruct us not to speak, but to do well; away with that eloquence that so enchants us with its harmony, that we should more study it than things. Unless you will allow that of Cicero to be of so supreme a perfection as to form a complete body of itself; and of him I shall further add one story, we read of him to this purpose, wherein his nature will much more manifestly be laid open to us; he was to make an oration in public, and found himself a little straightened in time, to fit his words to his mouth, as he had a mind to do; when Eros, one of his slaves, brought him word that the audience was deferred till the next day, at which he was so ravished with joy that he enfranchised him for the good news.

From the « Essays.) Cotton's

[ocr errors][merged small]

translation.

*

Ć

}

1

2

!

1

1

FRANCIS BACON

(BARON VERULAM AND VISCOUNT ST. ALBANS)

(1561-1626)

PRANCIS BACON was born in London, January 22d, 1561, at a time

when the revival of classical learning had so multiplied books

that England was entering one of its periods of greatest literary activity. He represented the highest intellect of his age more fully than any one else, and in his «Novum Organum ” he directed the thought and suggested the method of all scientific investigators who have come after him. He became Lord Chancellor of England in 1618, and in 1621 was charged with bribery and removed. He himself admitted that he had accepted gifts, and he showed the essential greatness of his mind by using its full strength to correct its worst weakness. He died at Highgate a suburb of London, April 9th, 1626, as the result of scientific experimenting while in a fever. He is for modern times what Aristotle was for ancient,the great pathfinder of science. His essays are probably the most eloquent prose written in English, or in any other modern language.

OF DISCOURSE

S

It is good

OME in their discourse desire rather commendation of wit, in being able to hold

all arguments, than of judgment in discerning what is true, as if it were a

praise to know what might be said, and not what should be thought. Some have certain commonplaces and themes, wherein they are good, and want variety, which kind of poverty is for the most part tedious, and, when it is once perceived, ridiculous. The honorablest part of talk is to give the occasion, and again to mod. erate, and pass to somewhat else, for then a man leads the dance. in discourse and speech of conversation to vary and intermingle speech of the present occasion with arguments, tales with reasons, asking of questions with telling of opinions, and jest with earnest, for it is a dull thing to tire, and, as we say now, to jade anything too far. As for jest, there be certain things which ought to be privileged from it, namely, religion, matters of state, great persons, any man's present business of importance, and any case that deserveth pity. Yet there be some that think their wits have been asleep, except they dart out somewhat that is piquant and to the quick, – that is, a vein which would be bridled.

« Parce, puer, stimulis, et fortius utere loris.)

And generally men ought to find the difference between saltness and bitterness. Certainly he that bath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory. He that questioneth much shall learn much and content much; but especially if he apply his questions to the skill of the persons whom he asketh, for he shall give them occasion to please themselves in speaking, and himself shall continually gather knowledge. But let his questions not be troublesome, for that is fit for a poser. And let him be sure to leave other men their turns to speak. Nay, if there be any that would reign, and take up all the time, let him find means to take them off and bring others on; as musicians used to do with those that danced too long galliards. If you dissemble sometimes your knowledge of that you are thought to know, you shall be thought another time to know that you know not. Speech of a man's self ought to be seldom and well chosen. I knew one was wont to say in scorn, «He must needs be a wise man, he speaks so much of himself. And there is but one case wherein a man may commend himself with good grace, and that is in commending virtue in another, especially if it be such a virtue whereunto himself pretendeth. Speech of touch towards others should be sparingly used, for discourse ought to be as a field, without coming home to any man. I knew two noblemen of the west part of England, whereof the one was given to scoff, but kept ever royal cheer in his house; the other would ask of those that had been at the other's table, «Tell truly, was there never a flout or dry blow given ?) To which the guest would answer, such and such a thing passed.' The lord would say, “I thought he would mar a good dinner.” Discretion of speech is more than eloquence, and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words or in good order. A good continued speech, without a good speech of interlocution, shows slowness; and a good reply, or second speech, without a good settled speech, showeth shallowness and weakness. As we see in beasts, that those that are weakest in the course are yet nimblest in the turn, as it is betwixt the grayhound and the hare. To use too many circumstances ere one come to the matter is wearisome; to use none at all is blunt.

From « Essays Civil and Moral.”

[ocr errors]

THOMAS HOBBES

(1588-1679)

HOMAS HOBBES, the celebrated English philosopher, was born in

Malmesbury, England, April 5th, 1588. He is the author of

philosophical and metaphysical works, which were epoch marking in the history of modern thought. Of those his Leviathan” is the best known. His analysis of Aristotle's “Rhetoric” is a masterpiece of its kind, frequently more valuable to the student than the “Rhetoric » itself. He died in Derbyshire, England, December 4th, 1679.

ANALYSIS AND SYNOPSIS OF ARISTOTLE'S «RHETORIC »

I. OF THE ORIGINAL OF ELOCUTION AND PRONUNCIATION

[ocr errors]

HREE things are necessary to an oration, namely, proof, elocution, and dis

position; we have done with the first, and shall speak of the other two in

that which follows. As for action, or pronunciation, so much as is necessary for an orator may be fetched out of the book of the art of poetry, in which we have treated of the action

of the stage.

[ocr errors]

For tragedians were the first that invented such action, and that but of late; and it consisteth in governing well the magnitude, tone, and measure of the voice, - a thing less subject to art than is either proof or elocution.

And yet there have been rules delivered concerning it, as far forth as serve for poetry.

But oratorical action has not been hitherto reduced to art.

And orators in the beginning, when they saw that the poets in barren and feigned arguments, nevertheless attained great reputation; supposing it had proceeded from the choice, or connection of words, fell into a style, by imitation of them, approaching to verse, and made choice of words.

But when the poets changed their style, and laid by all words that were not in common use, the orators did the same, and lighted at last upon words, and a government of the voice and measures proper to themselves.

Seeing therefore pronunciation or action are in some degree necessary also for an orator, the precepts thereof are to be fetched from the art of poetry.

[In the meantime, this may be one general rule. If the words, tone, greatness of the voice, gesture of the body and countenance, seem to proceed all from one passion, then 'tis well pronounced. Otherwise not.

For when there appear more passions than one at once, the mind of the speaker appears unnatural and distracted. Otherwise, as the mind of the speaker, so the mind of the hearer always.]

II. OF THE CHOICE OF WORDS AND EPITHETS

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

THE
HE virtues of a word are two: the first, that it be perspicuous; the second, that it

be decent; that is, neither above, nor below the thing signified; or neither too humble, nor too fine.

Perspicuous are all words that be proper.

Fine words are those that are borrowed, or translated from other significations; of which in the art of poetry.

The reason why borrowed words please is this. Men are affected with words, as they are with men, admiring in both that which is foreign and new.

To make a poem graceful many things help; but few an oration.

For to a poet it sufficeth with what words he can set out his poem: but an orator must not only do that; but also seem not to do it: for else he will be thought to speak unnaturally, and not as he thinks; and thereby be the less believed; whereas belief is the scope of his oration.

The words that an orator ought to use are of three sorts. Proper; such as are received; and metaphors.

Words taken from foreign languages, words compounded, and words new coined, are seldom to be used.

Synonyms belong to poets, and equivocal words to sophisters.

An orator, if he use proper words, and received and good metaphors, shall both make his oration beautiful, and not seem to intend it; and shall speak perspicuously. For in a metaphor alone there is perspicuity, novelty, and sweetness.

Concerning metaphors the rules are these:

1. He that will make the best of a thing, let him draw his metaphor from somewhat that is better. As for example, let him call a crime an error. On the other side, when he would make the worst of it, let him draw his metaphor from somewhat worse, as calling error, crime.

2. A metaphor ought not to be so' far fetched, as that the similitude may not easily appear.

3. A metaphor ought to be drawn from the noblest things, as the poets do that choose rather to say rosy-fingered than red-fingered aurora.

In like manner the rule of epithets is,

That he that will adorn should use those of the better sort; and he that will disgrace should use those of the worse: as Simonides being to write an ode in honor of the victory gotten in a course by certain mules, being not well paid, called them by their name ['Hyóvovs] that signifies their propinquity to asses: but, having received a greater reward, styles them the sons of swift-footed coursers.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

III. OF THE THINGS THAT MAKE AN ORATION FLAT

THE
CHE things that make an oration flat or insipid are four:

1. Words compounded; [and yet a man may compound a word, when the composition is necessary, for want of a simple word; and easy, and seldom used.]

2. Foreign words. As for example, such as are newly derived from the Latin; which though they were proper among them whose tongue it is, are foreign in another language: and yet these may be used, so it be moderately.

3. Long, impertinent, and often epithets.

4. Metaphors, indecent and obscure. Obscure they are, when they are far fetched. Indecent when hey are ridiculous, as in comedies; or too grave, as in tragedies.

« AnteriorContinuar »