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point in dispute is highly necessary to this end. though rhetoricians treat of these states only as they relate to controversies, and become the subject matter of dispute between differing parties, yet every discourse has one or more principal heads, which the speaker chiefly proposes to prove or illustrate. And therefore what has been said upon this subject may likewise be considered as proper to be attended to in all discourses.
I have only to add, that hitherto I have treated of the nature and use of the three states so far as relates to them in general; a more particular account of them, with the arguments which are properly suited to each state, will be next considered.
Of Arguments suited to demonstrative Discourses.
The general method of deducing arguments from Common Places has been already explained. But more fully to show the use of this subject, and the assistance it affords the orator, it may not be improper separately to consider the particular heads which are more especially suited to the several kinds of discourses. These are subordinate to the former, and spring from them like branches from the same stock, or rivulets from a common fountain; as will evidently appear when we come to explain them.
This is what I propose to enter upon at present, and shall begin with those which relate to demonstrative discourses. And as these consist either in praise or dispraise, agreeably to the nature of all contraries, one of them will serve to illustrate the other. Thus he who knows what arguments are proper to prove
the excellency of virtue, and commend it to our esteem, cannot be much at a loss for such as will show the odious nature of vice, and expose it to every one's abhorrence; since they are all taken from the same heads, and directly the reverse of each other. In treating therefore upon the topics suited to this kind of discourses, I need only mention those which are requisite for praise; whence such as are proper for dispraise will easily enough be discovered.
Now we praise either persons or things: under which division all beings with their properties and circumstances may be comprehended, so as to take in whatever belongs either to nature or art. But in each part of the division I shall confine my discourse principally to those subjects relating to social life, in which oratory is more usually conversant. And under the former head which respects persons or intelligent beings, I shall only speak of men. The ancient sophists among the Greeks in their laudatory speeches seem rather to have studied how to display their own eloquence, than to make them serve any valuable purposes in life for their characters were so heightened, like poetical images, as suited them more to excite wonder and surprise than to become the proper subjects of imitation. And for this reason Aristotle excludes them from the number of civil discourses, or such as relate to the affairs of society. Though if we consider the nature rather than the abuse of them, they appear to be very proper subjects for an orator, and to come within the main design of his province, which is persuasion. For to what purpose can eloquence be better employed than to celebrate virtuous persons or actions, in such a manner as to excite mankind to
their imitation, which is the proper end of such discourses. And indeed, the panegyrics of the Greeks, which were pronounced in the general assemblies of their several states, seem to have been designed to recommend virtue by so public a testimony, as appears by that of Isocrates in the praise of the Athenians. For as to the invectives of Demosthenes against king Philip they are rather of the deliberative kind, and so do not come under our present consideration, since the orator's principal view in those discourses is to animate the Athenians in a defence of their liberties by a vigorous prosecution of the war against king Philip; to which end he likewise proposes the fittest methods for carrying it on with success. And most of Cicero's invectives against Mark Antony may be referred to the same kind of discourses. But as it is evident from common observation, that men are more influenced by examples than precepts, so the celebrating virtue, and exposing vice, from particular instances in human life, as patterns to others in what they ought to pursue, and what to avoid, has by wise men been generally esteemed very serviceable to mankind. For which reason likewise the transmitting to posterity the lives of great and eminent men has met with good acceptance, as a useful and laudable design. And therefore the Romans, who were sensible that such discourses were not only suited for entertainment but might likewise be made very useful to the public, did not confine them to the schools of rhetoricians and the exercises of young persons: for it was their custom, as Quintilian tells us, to have them pronounced in public assemblies, even by magistrates, and sometimes by an order from the senate. So we read
that a funeral oration was spoken in honour of Junius Brutus by Publicola, his colleague in the consulship. And a like discourse, with a statue and public fune ral, was decreed by the senate to the honour of M. Juventius. Though afterwards we generally find this office performed by some relation. In compliance with which custom, as Suetonius relates, Augustus, when but twelve years of age, pronounced a funeral discourse in praise of his grandmother Julia. And Tiberius, when but nine years old, paid the like honour to his deceased father, as the same historian informs us. And Cicero's invective against Piso, with his second against Mark Antony, may be referred to demonstrative discourses, as they respect things that were past, and so could not then be subjects for consultation. For all praise or dispraise must either regard what is past or present. And, generally speaking, persons are most affected by present things. Indeed the encomiums of ancient heroes, and their famous actions, are very entertaining, and afford an agreeable pleasure in the recital; but such examples of virtue, as are still in being, or at least yet fresh in memory, have the greatest influence for imitation.
But in praising or dispraising persons, rhetoricians prescribe two methods. One is, to follow the order in which every thing happened that is mentioned in the discourse; the other is, to reduce what is said under certain general heads, without a strict regard to the order of time.
In pursuing the former method, the discourse may be very conveniently divided into three periods. The first of which will contain what preceded the person's
birth; the second, the whole course of his life; and the third, what followed upon his death.
Under the first of these may be comprehended what is proper to be said concerning his country and family. And, therefore, if these were honourable, it may be said to his advantage, that he no ways disgraced them, but acted suitably to such a descent. But if they were not so, they may be either wholly omitted, or it may be said, that instead of deriving thence any advantage to his character, he has conferred a lasting honour upon them; and that it is not of so much moment where or from whom a person derives his birth, as how he lives.
In the second period, which is that of his life, the qualities both of his mind and body, with his circumstances in the world, may be separately considered. Though as Quintilian rightly observes: All external advantages are not praised for themselves, but according to the use that is made of them. For riches, and power, and interest, as they have great influence and may be applied either to good or bad purposes, are a proof of the temper of our minds, and therefore we are either made better or worse by them. But these things are a just ground for commendation when they are the reward of virtue or industry. Bodily endowments are, health, strength, beauty, activity, and the like; which are more or less commendable according as they are employed. And where these, or any of them, are wanting, it may be shown that they are abundantly compensated by the more valuable endowments of the mind. Nay, sometimes a defect in these may give an advantageous turn to a person's character, for any virtue appears greater in proportion to the dis