Book I, Chapter I

Eloquence in the largest acceptation defined, its more general forms exhibited, with their different objects, ends, and characters

In speaking, there is always some end proposed, or some effect which the speaker intends to produce in the hearer. The word eloquence, in its greatest latitude, denotes “that art or talent by which the discourse is adapted to its end.”

All the ends of speaking are reducible to four; every speech being intended to enlighten the understanding, to please the imagination, to move the passions, or to influence the will.

Any one discourse admits only one of these ends as the principal. Nevertheless, in discoursing on a subject, many things may be introduced which are more immediately and apparently directed to some of the other ends of speaking, and not to that which is the chief intent of the whole. But then these other and immediate ends are in effect but means, and must be rendered conducive to that which is the primary intention. Accordingly, the propriety or the impropriety of the introduction of such secondary ends will always be inferred from their subserviency or want of subserviency to that end which is, in respect of them, the ultimate. For example, a discourse addressed to the understanding, and calculated to illustrate or evince some point purely speculative, may borrow aid from the imagination, and admit metaphor and comparison, but not the bolder and more striking figures, as that called vision or fiction, , and the like, which are not so much intended to elucidate a subject as to excite admiration. Still less will it admit an address to the passions, which, as it never fails to disturb the operation of the intellectual , must be regarded by every intelligent hearer as foreign at least, if not insidious. It is obvious that either of these, far from being subservient to the main design, would distract the attention from it.

In general, it may be asserted that each preceding species, in the order above exhibited, is preparatory to the subsequent; that each subsequent species is founded on the preceding; and that thus they ascend in a regular progression. Knowledge, the object of the intellect, furnishes materials for the fancy; the fancy culls, compounds, and, by her mimic art, disposes these materials so as to affect the passions; the passions are the natural spurs to volition or action, and so need only to be rightly directed.

Guided by the above reflections, we may easily trace that connection in the various forms of eloquence which was remarked on distinguishing them by their several objects. The imagination is charmed by a finished picture, wherein even drapery and ornament are not neglected; for here the end is pleasure. Would we penetrate farther, and agitate the soul, we must exhibit only some vivid strokes, some expressive features, not decorated as for show (all ostentation being both despicable and hurtful here), but such as appear the natural exposition of those bright and deep impressions made by the subject upon the speaker’s mind; for here the end is not pleasure, but emotion. Would we not only touch the heart, but win it entirely to cooperate with our views, those affecting lineaments must be so interwoven with our argument, as that, from the passion excited, our reasoning may derive importance, and so be fitted for commanding attention; and by the justness of the reasoning, the passion may be more deeply rooted and enforced; and that thus both may be made to conspire in effectuating that persuasion which is the end proposed. For here, if I may adopt the schoolmen’s language, we do not argue to gain [only] the assent of the understanding, but, [what] is infinitely more important, the consent of the will.

Chapter 4

Of the relation which eloquence bears to logic and to grammar

In contemplating a human creature, the most natural division of the subject is the common division into soul and body, or into the living principle of perception and of action, and that system of material organs by which the other receives information from without, and is enabled to exert its powers, both for its own benefit and for that of the species. Analogous to this there are two things in every discourse which principally claim our attention, the sense and the expression; or, in other words, the thought and the symbol by which it is communicated. These may be said to constitute the soul and the body of an oration, or, indeed, of whatever is signified to another by language. For as, in man, each of these constituent parts has its distinctive attributes, and as the perfection of the latter consists in its fitness for serving the purposes of the former, so it is precisely with those two essential parts of every speech, the sense and the expression. Now it is by the sense that rhetoric holds of logic, and by the expression that she holds of grammar.

As logic, therefore, forges the arms which eloquence teaches us to wield, we must first have recourse to the former, that, being made acquainted with the materials of which her weapons and armor are […] made, we may know their respective strength and temper, and when and how each is to be used.

Now, if it be by the sense or soul of the discourse that rhetoric holds of logic, or the art of thinking and reasoning, it is by the expression or body of the discourse that she holds of grammar, or the art of conveying our thoughts in the words of a particular language.

Source: Campbell, George. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. New ed., Harper and Brothers, 1868.


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