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ELEMENTS

OF

RHETORIC:

COMPRISING AN ANALYSIS OF THE

LAWS OF MORAL EVIDENCE

AND OF PERSUASION,

WITH RULES FOR

ARGUMENTATIVE COMPOSITION
AND ELOCUTION.

BY

RICHARD WHATELY, D. D.,

ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN.

Ο γὰρ γνοὺς, καὶ μὴ σαφῶς διδάξας, ἐν ἴσῳ εἰ καὶ μὴ ἐνεθυμήθη

THUCYDIDES.

NEW EDITION, REVISED BY THE AUTHOR.

BOSTON AND CAMBRIDGE:

JAMES MUNROE AND COMPANY.

1855.

This One

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A BRIEF outline of the principal part of the following Work was sketched out several years ago for the private use of some young friends; and from that MS. chiefly, the Article “Rhetoric” in the Encyclopædia Metropolitana was afterwards drawn up. I was induced to believe that it might be more useful if published in a separate form; and I accordingly, with the assistance of some friends, revised the treatise, and made a few additions and other alterations which suggested themselves; besides dividing it in a manner more convenient for reference.

The title of " Rhetoric," I thought it best on the whole to retain, being that by which the Article in the Encyclopædia is designated; as I was unwilling to lay myself open to the suspicion of wishing to pass off as new, on the strength of a new name, what had been already before the Public. But the title is in some respects open to objection. Besides that it is rather the more commonly employed in reference to public Speaking alone, it is also apt to suggest to many minds an associated idea of empty declamation, or of dishonest artifice; or at best, of a mere dissertation on Tropes and Figures of speech.

3

The subject, indeed, stands perhaps but a few degrces above Logic in popular estimation ; the one being generally regarded by the vulgar as the Art of bewildering the learned by frivolous subtleties; the other, that of deluding the multitude by specious falsehood. And if a treatise on composition be itself more favorably received than the work of a Logician, the Author of it must yet labor under still greater disadvantages. He may be thought to challenge criticism; and his own performances may be condemned by a reference to his own precepts; or, on the other hand, his precepts may be undervalued, through his own failures in their application. Should this take place in the present instance, I have only to urge, with Horace in his Art of Poetry, that a whetstone, though itself incapable of cutting, is yet useful in sharpening steel. No system of instruction will completely equalize natural powers; and yet it may be of service towards their improvement. A youthful Achilles may acquire skill in hurling the javelin under the instruction of a Chiron, though the master may not be able to compete with the pupil in vigor of arm.

As for any display of florid eloquence and oratorical ornament, my deficiency in which is likely to be remarked, it may be sufficient to observe, that if I had intended to practise any arts of this kind, I should have been the less likely to treat of them. To develop and explain the principles of any kind of trick, would be a most unwise procedure in any one who purposes to employ it; though perfectly consistent for one whose object is to put others on their guard against it. The juggler is the last person that would let the spectators into his own secret.

It has been truly observed that “genius begins where rules end.” But to infer from this, as some seem disposed to do, that, in any department wherein genius can be displayed, rules must be useless, or useless to those who possess genius, is a very rash conclusion. What I have observed elsewhere concerning Logic, that “a knowledge of it serves to save a waste of ingenuity,” holds good in many other departments also. In travelling through a country partially settled and explored, it is wise to make use of Charts, and of high-roads with direction-posts, as far as these will serve our purpose; and to reserve the guidance of the Compass or the Stars for places where we have no other helps. In like manner we should avail ourselves of rules as far as we can receive assistance from them; knowing that there will always be sufficient scope for genius in points for which no rules can be given.

In respect, however, of such matters as are treated of here and in the Elements of Logic, it has been sometimes maintained, or tacitly assumed, that all persons accomplish spontaneously, and all, equally well, every thing for which any rules have been, or can be, laid down; and that the whole difference between better and worse success depends entirely on things independent of instruction, and which are altogether the gift of Nature. I can only reply that my own experience has led me most decidedly to an opposite

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