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BOOK IV.-ARGUMENTATIVE PIECES

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ESSAY ON ELOCUTION.

-Id affert ratio, docent literæ, confirmat consuetudo legendi et loquendi.--Cicero

Much declamation has been employed, to convince the world of a very plain truth, that to be able to speak well is an ornamental and useful accomplishment Without the laboured panegyrics of ancient or modern orators, the importance of a good elocution is sufficiently obvious. Every one will acknowledge it to be of some consequence, that what a man has hourly occasion to do, should be done well. Every private company, and almost every public assembly, afford opportunities of remarking the difference between a just and graceful, and a faulty and unnatural elocution ; and there are few persons, who do not daily experience the advantages of the former, and the inconveniences of the latter. The great difficulty is, not to prove that it is a desirable thing to be able to read and speak with propriety, but to point out a practicable and easy method, by which this accomplishment may be acquired.

Follow Nature, is certainly the fundamental law of Oratory, without regard to which, all other rules will only produce affected declamation, not just elocution. And some accurate observers, judging, perhaps, from a few unlucky specimens of modern eloquence, have concluded, that this is the only law which ought to be prescribed; that all artificial rules are useless ; and that good sense, and a cultivated taste, are the only requisites to form a good public speaker. But it is true in the art of speaking, as well as in the art of living, that general precepts are of little use, till they are, unfolded, and applied to particular cases. To discover and correct those tones and habits of speaking, which are gross deviations from Nature, and, as far as they prevail, must destroy

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