Page images

66 who were in the naval engagements near. “ Salamis and Artemisium, and those who

fought at Platae ;” industriously suppressing the very mention of the events of those battles, because they were successful, and quite opposite to that of Chæronea. Upon which account he anticipates all objections, by immediately subjoining, “all whom, Æschines, “ the city honoured with a public funeral, “ not because they purchased victory with “ their lives, but because they lost those for “-their country.”


I MUST not in this place, my friend, omit an observation of my own, which I will mention in the shortest manner: Figures naturally impart assistance to, and on the other, side receive it again, in a wonderful manner, from sublime sentiments. And I will now shew where, and by what means, this is done.

A too frequent and elaborate application of Figures, carries with it a great suspicion of artifice, deceit, and fraud, especially when, in pleading, we speak before a judge, from whose sentence lies no appeal ; and much


[ocr errors]

more, if before a tyrant, à monarch, or any one invested with arbitrary power, or unbounded authority. For he grows immediately angry, if he thinks himself childishly amused, and attacked by the quirks and subtleties of a wily rhetorician. He regards the attempt as an insult and affront to his understanding, and sometimes breaks out into bitter indignation; and though perhaps he may suppress his wrath, and stifle his resentments for the present, yet he is averse, nay even deaf, to the most plausible and persuasive arguments that can be alledged. Wherefore a Figure is then most dexterously applied, when it cannot be discerned that it is a Figure.

Now a due mixture of the Sublime and Pathetic


much increases the force, and removes the suspicion that commonly attends on the use of Figures. For veiled, as it were,

wrapt up in such beauty and grandeur, they seem to disappear, and securely defy discovery. I cannot produce a better example to strengthen this assertion, than the preceding from Demosthenes: I swear by " those noble souls,” &c. For in what has the orator here concealed the Figure? Plainly, in its own lustre. For as the stars are quite dimmed and obscured, when the sun



breaks out in all his blazing rays, so the artifices of rhetoric are entirely overshadowed by the superior splendor of sublime thoughts. A parallel illustration may be drawn from painting: for when several colours of light and shade are drawn upon the same surface, those of light seem not only to rise out of the piece, but even to lie much nearer to the sight. So the Sublime and Pathetic, either by means of a great affinity they bear to the springs and movements of our souls, or by their own superlative lustre, always outshine the adjacent Figures, whose art they shadow, and whose appearance they cover, in a veil of superior beauties.


What shall I say here of Question and Interrogation? Is not discourse enlivened,


[ocr errors]

Deborah's words, in the person of Sisera's mother, instanced above on another occasion, are also a noble example of the use of Interrogations. Nor can I in this place pass by a passage in the historical part of Scripture ; I mean the words of Christ, in this Figure of self-interrogation and answer. " What went ye out “ into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken with the “ wind? But what went ye out for to see? a man clothed

strengthened, and thrown more forcibly along
by this sort of Figure? “Would you," says


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

“ in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing,
“ kings houses. But what went ye out for to
“ see? a prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than

a prophet. Matt. xi. 7-9.DR. PEARCE.

That the sense receives strength, as well as beauty,
from this Figure, is no where so visible as in the poeti-
cal and prophetical parts of Scripture. Numberless in-
stances might be easily produced, and we are puzzled
how to pitch on any in particular, amidst so fine va-
riety, lest the choice might give room to call our judg-
ment in question, for taking no notice of others, that
perhaps are more remarkable.

Any reader will observe, that there is a poetical air
in the predictions of Balaam in the xxiiid chapter of
Numbers, and that there is particularly an uncommon
Grandeur in ver. 19.

“ God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the
“ son of man, that he should repent. Hath he said,
" and shall he not do it? or, hath he spoken, and shall
" he not make it good?”

What is the cause of this Grandeur will immediately be seen, if the sense be preserved, and the words thrown out of interrogation:

“ God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the son " of man, that he should repent. What he has said, he 6 will do ; and what he has spoke, he will make good.”

The difference is so visible, that it is needless to enlarge upon it.

How artfully does St. Paul in Acts xxvi. transfer his discourse from Festus to Agrippa. In ver. 26. he speaks of him in the third person.

“ The King (says he) “knoweth of these things, before whom I also speak

“ freely

Demosthenes *, “ go about the city, and de“ mand what news? What greater news " can there be, than that a Macedonian en“ slaves the Athenians, and lords it over Greece? Is Philip dead? No: but he is

And what' advantage would “accrue to you from his death, when as “ soon as his head is laid, you yourselves will “ raise up another Philip?" And againt, " Let us set sail for Macedonia. But where 66 shall we land? 2 The very war will dis


very sick.

“ freely-" Then in the following he turns short

upon him: “ King Agrippa, believest thou the pro“phets?" and immediately answers his own question,

I know that thou believest.” The smoothest eloquence, the most insinuating complaisance, could never have made such impression on Agrippa, as this unexpected and pathetic address.

To these instances may be added the whole xxxvijith chapter of Job ; where we behold the Almighty Creator expostulating with his creature, in terms which express at once the majesty and perfection of the one, the meanness and frailty of the other. There we see how vastly useful the figure of Interrogation is, in giving us a lofty idea of the Deity, whilst every Question awes us into silence, and inspires a sense of our own insufficiency. * Demosth. Philip. Ima.

Here are two words in the original, which are omitted in the translation ; MPETO TIS, somebody may demand; but they manifestly debase the beauty of the figure. Dr. Pearce has an ingenious conjecture, that having been sometimo set as marginal explanations, they crept insensibly into the text.


+ Ibid.



« PreviousContinue »