Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

humour are discriminated, which are the chief consiaerations here. His design leads him to consider rather those particulars wherein they all agree, than those wherein they differ. He treats of ludicrous objects and ludicrous writing, with a view to account for the superior copiousness and refinement of modern ridicule. When philosophical acuteness is happily united with so great richness of fancy and mastery in language, the obscurity in which a subject was formerly involved vanishes entirely, and a reader unacquainted with all other theories and hypotheses, can hardly be persuaded that there was ever any difficulty in the question. But there is reason to think that the world will soon be favoured with an opportunity of judging for itself in regard to the merits of that performance.

One reason, though not the only one which the author has for mentioning the manner wherein the composition of this work has been conducted, and the time it has taken, is not to enhance its value with the public, but to apologize in some measure for that inequality in the execution and the style, with which he is afraid it will be thought chargeable. It is his purpose in this work, on the one hand, to exhibit, he does not say a correct map, but a tolerable sketch of the human mind; and, aided by the lights which the poet and the orator so amply furnish, to disclose its secret movements, tracing its principal channels of perception and action, as near as possible, to their source: and, on the other hand, from the science of human nature, to as- . certain, with greater precision, the radical principles of that art, whose object it is, by the use of language, to operate on the soul of the hearer, in the way of informing, convincing, pleasing, moving, or persuading. In the prosecution of a design so extensive there are

two extremes to be shunned. One is, too much abstraction in investigating causes; the other, too much minuteness in specifying effects. By the first, the perspicuity of a performance may be endangered; by the second, its dignity may be sacrificed. The author does not flatter himself so far as to imagine that he hath succeeded perfectly in his endeavours to avoid either extreme. In a work of this kind, it is impossible that everything should be alike perspicuous to every reader, or that all the parts should be equally elevated. Variety in this respect, as well as in others, is perhaps, on the whole, more pleasing and more instructive than too scrupulous a uniformity. To the eye the interchange of hill and dale beautifies the prospect; and to the ear there is no music in monotony. The author can truly say, that he has endeavoured, as much as he could, in the most abstruse questions, to avoid obscurity; and in regard to such of his remarks as may be thought too minute and particular, if just, they will not, he hopes, on a re-examination, be deemed of no consequence. Those may serve to illustrate a general observation, which are scarcely worth notice as subjects either of censure or of praise. Nor is there anything in this book which, in his opinion, will create even the smallest difficulty to persons accustomed to inquire into the faculties of the mind. Indeed, the much greater part of it will, he is persuaded, be level to the capacity of all those readers (not, perhaps, the most numerous class) who think reflection of some use in reading, and who do not read merely with the intention of killing time.

He begs leave to add, that though his subject be Eloquence, yet, as the nature of his work is didactical, wherein the understanding only is addressed, the style

in general admits no higher qualities than purity and perspicuity. These were, therefore, his highest aim. The best ornaments out of place are not only unbe coming, but offensive. Nor can anything be farther from his thoughts than to pretend to an exemption from such positive faults in expression, as, on the article of elocution, he hath so freely criticised in the best Eng. lish authors. He is entirely sensible that an impropriety or other negligence in style will escape the notice of the writer, which hardly escapes that of anybody else. Next to the purpose of illustrating the principles and canons which he here submits to the judgment of the public, the two following motives weighed most with the author in inducing him to use so much freedom in regard to the writings of those for whom he has the highest veneration. One is, to show that we ought in writing, as in other things, carefully to beware of implicit attachment and servile imitation, even when they seem to be claimed by the most celebrated names. The other is, to evince that we are in danger of doing great injustice to a work by deciding hastily on its merit from a collection of such oversights. If the critic be rigorous in marking whatever is amiss in this way, what author may abide the trial ? But though such slips are not to be regarded as the sole or even principal test of demerit in literary productions, they ought not to be altogether overlooked. Whatever is faulty in any degree it were better to avoid. And there are consequences regarding the language in general, as well as the success of particular works, which should preserve verbal criticism from being considered as beneath the attention of any author. An author, so far from having reason to be offended, is doubtless obliged to the man who, free from captious petulance, candidly points out his errors, of what kind soever they be.

[ocr errors]

CONTENT S.

THE NATURE AND FOUNDATIONS OF ELOQUENCE.

CHAP. I. Eloquence in the largest Acceptance defined, its more general Forms

exhibited, with their different Objects, Ends, and Characters

23

CHAP. II. Of Wit, Humour, and Ridicule

30

Sect. I. Of Wit..................................

SECT. II. Of Humour ................................................. 37

SECT. III. Of Ridicule....

42

CHAP. III. The Doctrine of the preceding Chapter defended

49

Sect. I. Aristotle's Account of the Ridiculous explained ...

ib.

SECT. II. Hobbes's Account of Laughter examined

50

CHAP. IV. Of the Relation whick Eloquence bears to Logic and to Grammar.. 54

CHAP. V. Of the different sources of Evidence, and the different Subjects to

which they are respectively adapted

57

Secr. I. Of Intuitive Evidence...........

Part I. Mathematical Axioms ...........

ib

Part II. Consciousness ................

59

Part III. Common Sense.............................................. 60

SECT. II. Of Deductive Evidence...

65

Part I. Division of the Subject into Scientific and Moral, with the principal

Distinctions between them .......

ib.

Part II. The Nature and Origin of Experience.....

69

Part III. The Subdivisions of Moral Reasoning

70

1. Experience

72

2. Analogy ...................................................... 75

3. Testimony

76

4. Calculations of Chances

78

Part IV. The Superiority of Scientific Evidence re-examined..

80

CHAP. VI. Of the Nature and Use of the scholastic Art of Syllogizing... 83

CHAP. VII. Of the Consideration which the Speaker ought to have of the Hear-

ers as Men in general..

93

SECT. I. As endowed with Understanding................................ 95

SECT. II. As endowed with Imagination..................................

ib

SECT. III. As endowed with Memory .................................... 97

Sect. IV. As endowed with Passions ....

99

Sect. V. The Circumstances that are chiefly instrumental in operating on

the Passions ...

..................... 103

Part I. Probability.

104

Part II. Plausibility .................................................. ib.

Part III. Importance

108

Part IV. Proximity of Time........................................... 109

Part V. Connexion of Place..

........................... 110
Part Vi. Relation to the Persons concerned............................. 111

Part VII. Interest in the Consequences.

.. ib.

SECT. VI. Other Passions, as well as Moral Sentiments, useful Auxiliaries... 112

SECT. VII. How an unfavourable Passion must be calmed...

115

CHAP. VIII. Of the Consideration which the Speaker ought to have of the Hear-

ers as such Men in particular

117

CHAP. IX. Of the Consideration which the Speaker ought to have of himself . 118

CHAP. X. The different kinds of public Speaking in use among the Moderns,

compared with a View to their different Advantages in respect of Eloquence 121

SECT. I. In regard to the Speaker..

ib.

SECT. II. In regard to the Persons addressed ............................. 124

SECT. III. In regard to the Subject

...................... 126

SECT. IV. In regard to the Occasion.............. ...................... 129

« AnteriorContinuar »