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Oration on the Powers of Eloquence
COLUMBIAN ORATOR, &C.
GENERAL DIRECTIONS FOR SPEAKING ; EX
TRACTED FROM VARIOUS AUTHORS.
OF PRONUNCIATION IN GENERAL
THE best judges among the ancients have repre
sented Pronunciation, which they likewise called Action, as the principal part of an orator's province ; from whence he is chiefly to expect success in the art of persuasion. When Cicero, in the person of Crassus, bas largely and elegantly discoursed upon all the other parts of oratory, coming at last to speak of this, he says, i All the former have their effect as they are pronounced. It is the action alone which governs in speaking ; without which the best orator is of no value ; and is often defeated by one, in other respects, much his inferior." And he lets us know, that Demosthenes was of the same opinion ; who, when he was asked what was the principal thing in oratory, replied, Action ; and being asked again a second and a third time, what was next considerable, he still made the same answer,
up hill ;
And, indeed, if he had not judged this highly necesa sary for an orator, he would scarcely have taken so much pains in correcting those natural defects, under which he laboured at first, in order to acquire it. For he had both a weak voice, and likewise an impediment in his speech, so that he could not pronounce distinctly some particular letters. The former of which defects he conquered, partly by speaking as loud as he could upon the shore, when the sea roared and was boisterous ; and partly by pronouncing long periods as he walked
both of which methods contributed to strengthen his voice. And he found means to render his pronunciation more clear and articulate, by the help of some little stones put under his tongue. Nor was he less careful in endeavouring to gain the habit of a becoming and decent gesture ; for which purpose he used to pronounce his discourses alone before a large glass. And because he had an ill custom of drawing up his shoulders when he spoke, to amend that, he used to place them under a sword, which hung over him with the point downward.
Such pains did this prince of the Grecian orators take to remove those difficulties, which would have been sufficient to discourage an inferiour, and less aspiring genius. And to how great a perfection he arrived in his action, under all these disadvantages, by his indefatigable diligence and application, is evident from the confession of his great adversary and rival in oratory, Eschines ; who, when he could not bear the disgrace of being worsted by Demosthenes in the cause of Ctesiphon, Tetired to Rhodes. And being desired by the inhabitants, · he recited to them his own oration upon that occasion ; the next day they requested of him to let them hear that of Demosthenes; which, having pronounced in a most graceful manner, to the admiration of all who were present, “How much more (says he) would you have wondered, if you had heard him speak it himself !”
We might add to these authorities the judgment of Quintilian ; who says, that “ It is not of so much mo