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quently not less force and power in the arrangement than in the matter and arguments themselves.
The Republic of Plato is a very celebrated work; and a short abstract, or rather outline, of it, may possibly entertain you. The work is in dialogue ; but as there is only one principal speaker, Socrates, it may be regarded as a disquisition. The professed intention of the author is to describe and define the nature of justice; this he does by a fanciful analogy, in the tracing of which he pursues the analytical method. He founds an imaginary city, and shews the advantage of each person practising some art which may be useful to the community, and practising that alone. He then divides his city into three classes : Ist. Those who pursue the arts of husbandry, mechanics, &c. 2d. The military, or a few chosen for the defence of the rest. 3d. The magistrates and counsellors, who are to administer the laws and regulate the police. This therefore is the order of the city ; but if one class (says he) should infringe on the proper business of the other, if the artizans or soldiers, being unskilled in the arts of governing, should pretend to rule, confusion and the dissolution of the state is the necessary consequence; and this constitutes the political nature of injustice.
In like manner man is endued with certain faculties, appetites and passions, the end of which is the general good of the whole ; and these may be divided into three classes....the appetitive, the irascible, and the reasonable; answering to the three classes constituted in the city. The rational is the governing and consultive power, and the irascible is the defensive, and is properly the guard and confederate to it. If, then, at any time the appetitive should assume the superiority, or the irascible part would subject every thing to his sway, the harmony is broken, and the man, of consequence, will act unjustly, &c. Αρέθη μεν αρα ως εoικεν, υγιεια τε τις αν ειη και καλλος και ευεζια ψυχης, κακια δε νοσος τε και αισχος και cobeveice. For virtue (says he) is the health and beauty, and sound constitution of the soul; vice, on the contrary, is disease, and barrenness, and debility."....REP. book iv.
Though I read much of Plato in my youth, I do not recommend to you to spend much time upon him. I remember he was far from satisfying either my friend Gilbert Wakefield or myself, when we read him. He abounds too much in minute and metaphysical distinc. tions, which are of little value, and can only be accounted in general a most elegant and ingenious trifler. Yet candour ought to make allowances for the age in which he lived. He was a divine, while totally ignorant of a true system of theology; and a moralist in a time when human nature was depraved by the grossest prejudices and perversions. Had the light of Christianity but dawned upon his mind, he would have been the first of philosophers. He would probably not have lost himself in the mist of idle speculation, but would have pursued the star which drew the sages from the East; like them he would have worshipped, not with an idolatrous adoration, but “in spirit and in truth."
If I recollect rightly, the analytical method is pursued in almost all the dialogues of Plato. It seems indeed the only method that can be followed with success whenever the Socratic mode of reasoning (that which draws a conclusion from the concessions of your adversary) is employed. It is often a very pleasing method of inculcating truth, for the curiosity of the hearer or reader becomes frequently deeply interested in the pro
The full design of the speaker is not perceived until the conclusion he aims to establish strikes with irresistible force upon the mind.
But however useful the analytical method may be where a prejudice is to be removed, or a new truth presented to the mind, still in works purely didactic or preceptive, the synthetic is the simplest, and the most readily comprehended.
In all disquisitions, or argumentative or didactic works, method and arrangement is of almost as much importance as either the matter or the style. The lucidus ordo is recommended by the earliest critics; and the remark of Pliny ought to be impressed upon the mind of every young writer, that “Éven barbarians can
express themselves with force and brilliancy ; but to arrange with propriety, and dispose with elegance the parts of a work, is the task only of the learned.”* Never therefore sit down to write before you have well digested in your mind the plan and order of what you intend. It is even useful to commit to writing a sketch of the method in which you mean to pursue your subject. This is indeed necessary to perfection in any art; for a good painter always makes certain of a good and correct outline or design, before he sits down to fill up the various lights and shades of the picture.
The talent of methodizing, and that of eliciting detached, though brilliant thoughts, are talents entirely different. The latter is the operation of fancy, with little assistance from the reasoning power; the former is the act of a mind of large powers, and of extensive views of things.
There are two modes of composing, which are occasionally adopted according to the nature of the work, or the genius of the author. The first is when a number of thoughts, which have occurred at different times, but relating to the same subject, have been carefully noted down, and are afterwards arranged and polished at the leisure of the writer. The other mode is, when the writer having, with much reading and reflection, made himself master of the subject, prosecutes the work in a connected order, and writes what spontaneously occurs to his mind. Each of these modes supposes a plan ; but in the former case the plan seems to arise out of the materials which have been originally collected, perhaps without much regard to method, and is formed by diligently comparing and digesting them in the order in which they will appear to most advantage. In the other case, the writer follows a plan already conceived,
* “ Utinam ordo saltem et transitus et figuræ simul specta
Nam invenire præclare et enunciare magnificé, interdum barbari solent : disponere apté, varié nisi eruditis negatum est.”....Pliny, Ep. 1. 3. e. 13.
and perhaps even laid down upon paper. Treatises composed in this way, therefore, are more connected, and the parts harmonize with each other. much better than in the former case.
In large works, however, and especially in compilations, it is necessary to make collections, though it should not be done without a regard to order ; for there is scarcely any mind so rich as to be entire master of every part of a considerable branch of science.
The style of didactic or argumentative compositions should in general be plain and simple. Something will however depend upon the nature, of the subject. In works on natural or experimental philosophy, or of deep reasoning upon any subject; where, in short, instruction is more the object than amusement, the style cannot be too simple. In moral and political treatises on the other hand, some scope may be allowed to the imagination, and they will even be the better for some ornament, provided the writer does not indulge in too florida style. By simplicity I would not be understood to recommend inelegance. In the most simple style, perspicuity, purity, and even harmony, are as much to be regarded as in the most laboured and rhetorical, and perhaps more
The style of an orator or declaimer may be com, pared to the full dress of a modern lady of taste and fashion ; that of the philosopher should have all the neatness of a young and beautiful quaker.
ORATORY.....PARTS OF AN ORATION.
MY DEAR JOHN,
ORATORICAL compositions might have been comprehended under the preceding division, for they are in general either didactic or argumentative. But the form and style of orations; their intention and object, which is an address in part, at least, to the passions, have, from the first cultivation of letters, placed them in a distinct class; and this division may, as I before intimated, be allowed to include many political declamátions, which have not been spoken, and even some compositions on more serious subjects, but which in their style and manner partake more of oratory than of any other art or science.
What has been already observed respecting the synthetical and analytical modes of exposition will also apply to rhetorical compositions; but in these last the directions of critics are rather more minute, as they divide every oration into parts, and the detail and explanation of these will serve in some measure to aid you in what I mentioned as not the least difficult part of composition, the arrangeinent.
The most ancient writers on rhetoric and oratory have agreed in dividing an oration or discourse into five parts.
Ist. The exordium, or introduction.
2d. The narrative (narratio) or what we should in modern language call a statement of the facts.
3d. The division of the arguments.
4th. The argumentative, which is generally the most important part of a discourse.
5th. The peroration, or conclusion.