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Thus ORATORY is the natural faculty of speech improved by art; whereby the use of it is perfected, facilitated, and extended; and consequently its value and influence greatly increased. And the excellence of this art is the more generally acknowledged, and its effects the more admired, because, language being common to us all, all men can the more easily conceive both the inportance, and the difficulty of the improvements of which it is capable.

Very few persons ever find themselves at a loss to deliver a single sentence or two at a time; because they are able to see at one view the whole of what they intend to say. But it is not common to find a person able to acquit himself with propriety in a speech of considerable length, even though he prepare himself by digesting beforehand all that he intends to say, because the order and connexion of sentiment, and variety of diction, neceffary in a continued speech, are not easily carried in memory: and it requires a very extraordinary invention and recollection to speak long, in a proper and graceful manner, quite extempore. Nor can a person, without the aflistance of art and instruction, eyen compose a set discourse upon any subject; because it requires greater exactness in the use of words, more accuracy of method, and variety of transition than persons uninstructed and unused to composition can be


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masters of. For this reason we see many persons who make a good figure in conversation, by no means able to make a speech, or a composition of any considerable length. It is in this respect, where the powers of nature fail us, in expressing our sentiments to advantage, that we have recourse to the art of Oratory.

It may not be amiss, at the entrance upon these Lectures upon Oratory and Criticism, to premise one caution; which is, that we must not expect too much from the art; since this can do little for us in comparison of what must be the fruit of our own previous application to science. The art of oratory can only consist of rules for the proper use of those materials which must be acquired from various study and observation, of which, therefore, unless a person be possessed, no art of oratory can make him an orator.

In order to speak, or write well upon any subject, it is necessary that that subject be thoroughly understood, that every argument which is to be used be previously collected, and the value of it ascertained. How absurd, for instance: would it be to imagine that a person, who had never studied law, government, and history, should be enabled, by the art of oratory, to make a political harangue, or write a dissertation upon the constitution of a state? With what fuccess would an orator, who had not studied the

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Law, Law, undertake the defence of a client? or a person wholly unacquainted with morals or theology, attempt to speak from the pulpit? Whatever subject, therefore, any person intends to write or speak upon, he must, by applying to the

proper sources, acquire a perfect knowledge of it, before he can expect any assistance from the art of oratory, as such.

Moreover, let a person he ever so perfect a master of his subject, he could not be taught to speak or write about it with propriety and good effect, without being previously instructed in the principles of GRAMMAR, i. e, without a knowledge of the inflection of words, and of the structure of sentences, in the language he makes use of.

It is necessary, likewise, as far as reasoning is concerned, that a person be, in some fense, a logician before he be an orator; since it is by the rules of Logic that we judge of every thing relating to arguments, their perspicuity or confusion, their fallacy or their force. More especially is it of consequence to every orator whose business is with men, to be well acquainted with human nature; that knowing the passions, prejudices, interests, and views of those he hath to do with, he may know how to address them accordingly.

But notwithstanding this be treated of in many books written on the subject of oratory, and par


ticularly by Aristotle; there is no more reason why we should encumber a system of oratory with it, than that we croud into it the elements of any other science, or branch of knowledge, that the orator may have occasion for. Besides, those plain principles of human actions with which the orator hath to do, are obvious to common reflection, and must have occurred to every person before he hath lived to the age in which he has

any occasion for the art of oratory. For this part of the furniture of an orator, therefore, let the student have recourse to Ethical treatises, as far as they unfold the principles of human nature; let. him study authentic histories of human characters and conduct; and let him principally attend to the emotions of his own heart. However, that knowledge of human nature, which is necessary to understand the rationale of the ornaments of style will not be excluded a place in these Lectures, but will be explained pretty much at large in the third part of the course.

Supposing a man, therefore, to be perfectly acquainted with the subject on which he proposes to speak or write, that he is not deficient in the knowledge of grammatical propriety, and that by logic, natural or artificial, he can judge of the force or fallacy of any argument that occurs, or is proposed to him ; it is asked what asistance he may expect from the art of oratory, in carrying his design into execution in the most advantageous manner?

In this case, all that remains to be done is,

First, to aflist him in the habit of recolle&tion, or to direct him which way to turn his thoughts, in order to find the arguments and illustrations with which his mind is already furnished; and likewise, when a general topic, or head of discourse, is found, in what manner to confirm or illustrate it, in order to have materials for the bulk or body of the discourse. In this manner oratory may assist the invention; but it is not in finding things with which the mind was wholly unacquainted, but in readily recollecting, and judiciously selecting, what is proper for his purpose, out of the materials with which the mind was previoully furnished.


Secondly, the art of oratory teaches in what order to dispose of those topics. It shews what disposition of the materials of a discourse will give them the greatest force, and contribute the most to produce the effect intended by it.

Thirdly, to contribute still farther to the effect of a discourse, the art of oratory teaches what style, or manner of expression, will best become, adorn, and recommend it.


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