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What direct memorial, says a late writer,* would remote posterity have received, even of the existence of the talent, were not a few of Mr. Burke's Orations incorporated with his works? But, gorgeous as is certainly the rhetorick of Edmund Burke, will his speeches alone convey an adequate representation of the extent, variety, and richness of the eloquence of modern times?
It presents at one view to the Lawyer and Statesman a mass of learned and lucid discussions of politicks and jurisprudence, which must be eminently subsidiary to his investigations, and which, as hitherto dispersed were always difficult of access, and in many instances not to be procured.
It will exhibit correct models for the study of Elo. cution to the rising genius of the country.
Whether we have regard to reputation or to utility, whether we wish to shine in private conversation or in publick speaking, the study of the finest models is vital to success.
These are the guides by which genius must be directed, and without which the strongest intellect may be fruitlessly or deviously employed. It has been no less justly, than elegantly asserted by an admirable instructort of the most correct and delicate taste in the liberal arts, and who rigorously observed his own maxims, “ that an implicit obedience to the rules of art, as established by the great masters, should be exacted from the juvenile student. When genius has received its utmost improvement,
* Dr. Parr.
+ Sir Joshua Reynolds.
rules may possibly be dispensed with. But let us not destroy the scaffold, until we have raised the building.'
These are precepts which seem no less applicable to the study of eloquence. They are, at least, the precepts which are enjoined by the highest authority of antiquity. Both Cicero and Quintilian exhort their pupils to adhere to the establishdd models, lest they fall into a wild licentiousness of taste.
“ Poeta nascitur, Orator fit." The orator is the creature of education.
By a system of rhetorical discipline, Bolingbroke and Pultney, Murray and Pitt, Lyttleton and Burke, Townshend and Fox, attained their glorious preeminence, and alternately at the desk or the toilet, in conversation or in council, were able to convince, to persuade, to dazzle, and to delight.
The student, who with a mixture of enthusiasm and industry shall “ meditate” the contents of this work can hardly fail to acquire the habit of conversing and speaking with elegance and energy.
Whatever tends to improve or widen the dominion of speech cannot be an object of indifference to a Free People. Eloquence has always been admired and studied; but never with more ardour and success than by republicans. It engages particularly their attention, because it opens to them the widest avenue to distinction. Compared to it, the influence of the other attributes which elevate to rank, or confer
authority is feeble and insignificant. In Greece and Rome it rose by assiduous culture to the loftiest pitch of refinement, and the history of those Commonwealths confirms, by innumerable proofs, the truth that “ Eloquence is power.”
But no where has a condition of things prevailed holding out stronger incitements to its acquirement, or more auspicious opportunities for its profitable exertion than in the United States. In the peculiar construction of our political institutions, there are advantages to the orator which did not belong even to the ancient democracies. The complex fabrick of our federative system, has multiplied beyond the example of any government, legislative assemblies and judiciary establishments : each of which is not only a school of eloquence, but a field, yielding an abundant harvest of fame and emolument. It is, indeed, in our Republick a never failing source both of honour and of riches. Without the charmful power of fluent speech, no man, however ambitious, can expect very ample or lucrative practice at the bar, or an elevated situation in the senate. The road to political preferment is nearly impassable to all but the rhetorical adventurer. A silent lawyer has but few fees, and narrow is the congregation of a hesitating divine. Eloquence, in the language of a favourite friend, * may truly be considered, in every country where the freedom of speech is indulged, as synonymous with civick honours, wealth, dignity, and might. In the last particular its potency is
* Mr. Dennie.
that of a magician. “ It wields at will our fierce Democratie.” “ It shakes the arsenal,” and thunders to the utmost verge of our political sky, as Demosthenes
“ Fulmined over Greece
The editor, in preparing this compilation for the press, felt none of the incitements of literary ambition, nor does he now arrogate any of the pretensions of authorship. The motives, which led him to un. dertake it, were of a very different kind. He contemplated it as an enterprise, certainly of a useful, splendid, and honourable nature, peculiarly calculated to recreate his leisure, and to deceive the bur. thens of an anxious and arduous profession.
Having thus, incidentally, alluded to his walk in life, he hopes that neither his medical brethren, nor the publick at large, will deem him a reprehensible wanderer, though, in the intervals of professional duty, he has excursed to the Bar or the Senate to make no inaccurate report of the dexterity of wit, and the dictates of wisdom, the sagacity of statesmen, and the eloquence of orators.
By the mythology of the ancients, which has often a fine, though not always an obvious moral, we are instructed that the study and practice of physick was most conspicuously connected with the love of the liberal arts, and of polite literature.
In a mood of no censurable enthusiasm may the Editor exclaim, as to an Apollo, the tutelary God
not only of the diciples of Esculapius, but of the votaries of the Muses :
“ Phæbe fave, novus ingreditur tua templa sacerdos."
The Editor trusts, perhaps, too sanguinely, that though the contents of this compilation may not equal extravagant expectations yet, at least, that the industry it displays may deserve publick fa
A splendid specimen of oratory like one of the Cartoons of Raphael, or one of the Landscapes of Claude, is a beautiful picture that will affect us, how . ever it be disposed. Materials such as form the basis of this work must have their value under the hand of the humblest workman. Here as we alternately mark the pure style, and purer doctrines of Pitt, the rapid elocution of Fox, the variegated imagery of Burke, the meteor scintillations of Curran, the pungent sarcasms of Sheridan, and the benignant sentiments of Wilberforce, we discover now the vigour of Hercu. les, and now the frolick of a Bacchant, with all the delightful shapes of mental