Page images

Lord; and mankind will fee that without confidering the unworthinefs of the ambaffador, you refpected nothing in him but the power of the Mafter who fent him.

For it is not only in the name of the inhabitants of Antioch that I appear in this place, I am come from the fovereign Lord of men and angels to declare to you, that if you pardon men their faults, the heavenly Father will pardon yours. Call to mind, great Prince, that tremendous day, when you will appear before the King of Kings, to give an account of your actions. You are going to pronounce your own fentence. Other ambaffadors ufe to difplay magnificent prefents before the Princes to whom they were. fent: as for me, I offer nothing to your Majefty but the holy book of the Gofpels; and I dare exhort you to imitate your Mafter, who does good every day to thofe who infult him.

He at length concludes his difcourfe, by affuring the Emperor, that if he refused that unfortunate city the pardon fhe fued for, he would never return to it, nor ever confider that city as his country, which the mildest Prince upon earth looks upon with indignation, and could not prevail with himself to pardon.

Theodofius was not able to refift the force of this fpeech. He could fcarce fupprefs his tears, and diffembling the emotion he was in, as much as poffible, he spoke these words to the Patriarch: If Jesus Christ, God as he is, was willing to pardon the men who cru. cified him, ought I to make any difficulty to pardon my fubjects who have offended me, I who am but a mortal man like them, and a fervant of the fame Mafter? Upon this Flavian proftrated himself, wifhing him all the profperity he deferved for this noble action. And as that prelate expreffed a defire of paffing the feast of Eafter at Conftantinople: Go, father, fays Theodofius, embracing him, and do not delay one moment the confolation which your people will receive by your return, and the affurances you

will give of the pardon I grant them. I know they are ftill grieved and afraid. Go then, and carry the pardon of their crime for the feaft of Eafter. Pray that God may blefs my arms, and be affured, that after this war I will go in perfon and comfort the city of Antioch.

The holy prelate fet out immediately; and to haften the joy of the citizens, he dispatched a more expeditious courier than himfelf, who freed the city from it's uneafinefs and alarms.

I once more beg pardon for the length of this kind of digreffion. I imagined, that the extract of this eloquent homily might be as ufeful to youth, as any paffage in profane authors. There would be room for many reflections, efpecially on two characters, which though feemingly incompatible are united, however, in Flavian's oration; the humility and proftrate fubmiffion of a fuppliant, with the magnificence and greatness of a bifhop, but which are fo modified, that they mutually fupport each other. We at first behold the bifhop trembling, intreating, and, as it were, lying down at the Emperor's feet. But afterwards, towards the end of the difcourfe, he appears invefted with all the fplendor and majefty of the Lord, whofe minifter he is. He commands, he threatens, he intimidates; but ftill humble in his elevation. But I will content myself with the reflection which arifes naturally from the fubject that gave me occafion to relate this ftory. In my opinion thefe two difcourfes of Flavian and Theodofius may be propofed as an excellent model in this fpecies of mild and tender paffions. I do not pretend thereby to exclude the ftrong and violent ones with which they are fometimes blended; but, if I am not mistaken, the former are predominant.





HE rules I have hitherto given upon eloquence,

Quintilian, who applied themfelves chiefly in forming orators for the bar, might be fufficient for fuch young gentlemen as are defigned for that honourable profeffion. I thought however that I was obliged to add fome more particular reflections, which may serve them as guides, to point out to them the paths they are to follow. I fhall firft examine what models must be proposed to form the ftile fuitable to the bar, and will afterwards speak of the means which youth may employ, to prepare themfelves for pleading. And I fhall conclude with collecting fome of Quintilian's finest obfervations upon the manners and character of pleaders.


[ocr errors]


Of the model of Eloquence proper for the Bar. HAD we the harangue and pleadings of the great

number of able orators,

fome years have made the French bar fo famous, and of those who ftill appear at it with so much luftre, we should be able to find in them certain rules and perfect models of eloquence. But the few performances we have of this kind oblige us to have recourse to the fource itself; and to fearch in Athens and Rome for thofe things which the modefty of our orators (perhaps exceffive in this respect) does not permit us to find at home.

Demofthenes and Cicero, by the confent of all ages and of all the learned, have been the most diftinguished for the eloquence of the bar; and confequently their ftile may be proposed to youth, as a model they may fafely imitate. It would be neceffary, for that purpose, to make them well acquainted with it, to be careful in obferving the character, and to make them fenfible of the differences in it; but this


cannot be done without reading and examining their works. Thofe of Cicero are in every one's hands, and therefore well enough known. But 'tis not fo with Demofthenes's orations; and in an age fo learned and polite as ours, it must seem aftonishing, that fince Greece has been always confidered as the first and moft perfect fchool of eloquence and good tafte, we should be fo careless, especially with regard to the bar, in confulting the great mafters fhe has given us in that kind; and that in case it was not thought neceffary to bestow much time upon their excellent leffons, that we fhould not, at least, have the curiosity to take but a curfory view of them; and hear them, as it were, at a distance, in order to examine ourfelves if it be true, that the eloquence of those famous orators is as admirable as it is declared to be; and if it fully answers the reputation they have acquired.


In order to enable young people, and those who have not ftudied Greek, to form fome idea of Demofthenes's ftile, I fhall here transcribe several paffages from his orations, which indeed will not be fufficient to exhibit that great orator in the glorious light he ought to be fhewn, nor perhaps to give models of his eloquence in all its kinds; but they will contribute at least to display some part of him, and his principal characterifticks.. I fhall add to this, fome paffages from the harangue which Æfchines, his competitor and rival, pronounced against him, and borrow M. Tourreil's tranflation; I mean the laft, which is much more laboured, and more correct than the former ones. I fhall however fometimes take the liberty to make a few fmall alterations, becaufe on one hand, there are a great number of low and trivial expreffions in it, K 2 and tamen excipere voces eorum, & procul quid narrarent, attendere. 1. de Orat. n. 153.


z Ce que nous demandions tous & à cor & à cri...... Le foin qu'ils ont devous corner aux oreilles.. Si vous continuez à fainé


YEgo idem exiftimavi pecudis effe, non hominis, cùm tantas res Græci fufciperent, profiterentur, agerent... non admovere aurem, nec, fi palam audire eos non auderes, ne minueres apud tuos cives auctoritatem tuam, fubaufcultando

and on the other, the ftile is fometimes too fwelling and bombaftica; faults directly contrary to the character of Demofthenes, whofe eloquence was at the fame time very fimple and very magnificent. M. de Maucroy has tranflated fome of his orations. His verfion, though lefs correct in fome paffages, feems to me more agreeable to the genius of the Greek orator. I partly make use of it in the firft extract I here give, which is taken from the firft Philippic.

ficiles dans vos affemblees: vous voulez y être flatés, & qu'on ne vous tienne que des propos agréables. Cependant cette delicatefse vous a conduits fur le bord du précipice. Ce qui a trompé M. de Tourreil eft le mot puqa, qui fignifie ordinairement, deliciis abundare, diffluere, in deliciis vivere. Quand il auroit eu ici ce fens, il n'auroit pas falu l'exprimer par ces pompeux: Vous vous endormez tranquillement entre les bras de la volupté: qui joints aux précédens, au bruit flateur d'une adulation continuelle, forment un ftile tout oppofe à celui ce Démofthene, dont l'eloquence mâle & auftere ne fouffre point de ces fortes d'ornemens. Mais les délices & la volupté n'étoient point alors le caractére des Athéniens : & d'ail· leurs quel raport pouvoient-elles avor aux affemblées publiques Au lieu qu'il étoit très naturel que les Athéniens, enfiés les éloges continuels que les orateurs faifoient de leur grande puiflance, de leur mérite fupérieur, des exploits de leurs ancêtres, & ac coutumés depuis lon-tems à de telles flateries, d'un côté fiffent les importans dans leurs affemblées, & y priftient des airs fiers & dédaigneux pour un ennemi qu'ils méprifoient: & de l'autre fuffent venus à ce point de délicateffe de ne pouvoir fouffrir que leurs orateurs leurs diffent la verité. Car je croi qu'ici pupa peut avoir ce double fens.




anter.... Vous vous comportez au rebours de tous les autres hommes ... Vous ne ceffez de m'affaffiner de clabauderies éternelles..... Ils vous escamoteront les dix talens... Vous amufer de fariboles


Il fe ménagea un prompt rapatriement.... Que fi le cœur vous en dit, je vous cede la tribune. ... Mais tout compté, tout rabatu. Non, en duffiezvous crever à force de l'affurer fauffement..... Vous vomiffez des charetés d'injures.... Je raporte cepeu d'exemples entre beaucoup d'autres, pour avertir ceux qui liront cette traduction, très eftimable d'ailleurs, de ne point im puter à l'orateur Grec de pareils défauts d'expreffion.


Je ne citerai qu'un endroit, tiré de la troifiéme Philippique. De la il arrive que dans vos affemblées, au bruit flateur d'une alulation continuelle, vous vous endormez tranquillement entre les bras de la volupté: mais que dans les conjonctures & dans les évenemens vous courez les derniers périls. Voici le texte de la premiere partie, qui feule fouffre quelque difficulté: si jμiv ouμβέβηκεν ἐκ τούτου ἐν μὲν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τρυφῶν καὶ καλατεύεσθαι πάντα πρὸς ἡδονὴν ἀκούουσιν, Volfius le traduit ainfi: Unde id confequimini, ut in concionibus faftidiatis, affentationibus deliniti, & omnia, qua voLuptati funt, audiatis. Ce qui eft le véritable fens, & M. de Maucroy l'a fuivi. Vous vous rendez dif

« PreviousContinue »